In every young pitcher’s career there are moments when they must rise up and exceed the expectations of their teammates, their coaches, and themselves.
Rare occasions when hard work and preparation finally meet opportunity.
For Male High School’s senior ace Brandon Allen, one such occasion was last year’s state quarterfinal against Lexington Christian.
Then ranked sixth in the state, Lexington Christian was a heavy favorite. The Eagles had shelled Allen and the Bulldogs for an easy 5-1 victory during the regular season.
This outing was different, however, as Allen put in the best performance of his career.
He struck out four and allowed only four hits and no walks.
He threw so efficiently that a mere 86 pitches was all it took to lead the Bulldogs to a 3-0 win and a trip to the State Final Four.
“He did what all great pitchers do,” explained Male assistant coach Bernie Holkamp. “He buckled down and got the win.”
This season, Allen, who is 2-0, and his teammates are looking to get back to the state tournament.
Male is 10-4 and wins over No. 11 Lexington Christian, No. 5 Pleasure Ridge Park and No. 2 Harrison County have made it clear that this team has no lack of potential, although it’s had some tough losses.
“We’re taking our lumps right now,” explained head coach Todd Driskell. “But that’s part of building strength as a team.”
“We’re trying to peak at the right time and get some seasoning along the way,” Driskell continued.
As one of the Seventh region’s top hurlers, Allen will be crucial in determining the fate of this year’s team.
Driskell compares Allen’s style to Greg Maddux, the former major league pitcher regarded for his control. “He doesn’t waste many pitches,” Driskell said. “He comes right at you and tries to get you out in three pitches or less.”
Allen’s leadership has been impressive.
“He’s embraced his role as a captain and looks to encourage and push the other kids,” Driskell said.
Allen, who posted a 12-4 record and an ERA of 2.1 last season, was a pre-season All-State team selection.
While Brandon Allen may be garnering attention this season, he is not the only Allen on Male’s roster.
His younger brother Chris, a sophomore catcher, has played an important role in Brandon’s development.
“He tells me what I need to work on and I do the same,” Chris Allen said.
This season has been particularly fun for their father, Roger Allen.
“It’s the first time they’ve been on the same team and not competing against each other,” Roger Allen said.
Next fall, Allen will continue his career at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Ind.
“Of course (playing professionally) is his dream,” Roger Allen said. “But he would also like to become a teacher someday.”
Allen said one of his teachers at Male sparked an interest in the profession. “I took Coach (Tom) Crews’ U.S. History class last year and he made the material so fun and easy to understand,” said Allen. “I want to major in education so one day I can teach history and coach baseball.” Tom Crews, who recently resigned as Male’s head basketball coach, still teaches at the school.
For now, though, Allen’s first priority is reaching the State Tournament.
“We just need to come together and play as a team,” he said. “Hopefully we can make it back.”