2023 Baseball Players to Watch: Pitchers
By Zach Pressnell
Trey Mantle, Junior, Pitcher
Trey Mantle is a two-year starting pitcher for the Bison, who has compiled 19 starts for 120 innings pitched. In those games, Trey has been spectacular, tallying 5 complete games and 7 wins. His sophomore season was a bit of a step back from his incredible freshman campaign, but it was still nothing to be disappointed about. He is not a player who lacks confidence nor doubts his ability on the field, which could make for a bounce back 2023 season.
In 2022, he finished second on the team in strikeouts, striking out 46 hitters. He was a big reason that the 2022 Bethany College Baseball team was able to set their all-time record for team strikeouts in a season (233). Trey was good for 19.7% of the total strikeouts. I would not be surprised to see Trey strike out 55+ batters while winning 5+ games on the mound in 2023.
Zach Nolf, Senior, Pitcher
Zach Nolf worked as the team's main relief pitcher during the 2022 season. While it would be easy to give him the title as the team’s “Closer”, that title didn’t do a justice for his impact on the team. He was more like the “High-Leverage Reliever” for the Bison, as he would come into the game in the biggest, most impactful spots. This wasn’t always in the final inning. He often entered in the middle of some pretty hectic innings, where he shined bright for the Bison pitching staff.
In 2022, he tallied 6(SIX!!) saves for the Bison, which is good for the 5th most in Bethany history in a single season. This also places him 5th in Bethany history with 8 career saves. While working as the team’s main relief pitcher, he was able to hold a 1.57 ERA over 28.66 innings. He also was able to strike out 23 batters, which was good for 5th on the team in 2022. Nolf was 1 of 3 Bison to earn an All-Conference mention, as he brought home All-PAC Honorable Mention.
JT Hubert, Sophomore, Pitcher/UTL
While the other 3 names on this list are Bethany veterans on the baseball field, this name isn’t. In fact. JT Hubert has only thrown 20.33 innings for the Bison. But in those 20 innings, he managed to set the all-time Bethany record for Strikeouts per 9 innings (10.62). While he had a successful 2022 season on the mound, the real excitement around Hubert is based on his electric fall season.
Hubert threw a fastball that reached 88 MPH and sat between 84-88 MPH for the duration of the fall. 88 MPH is good for the fastest fastball thrown by a Bethany pitcher in a few seasons. He pairs that with a wipeout slider and an electric mound presence, which makes him a nightmare for opposing hitters. Depending on his role in the pitching staff, whether that be reliever or starter, if JT is able to compile a decent number of innings, he will explode on the scene for the Bison. An All-PAC Utility player spot could be a possibility in the spring for the young sophomore.
Mark Lavezza, Senior, Pitcher
Mark Lavezza is the oldest pitcher of the 3 Bison starting pitchers (Lavezza, Mantle, and Pressnell). This led him to being the most experienced and seasoned pitcher returning to the 2023 pitching staff. After a COVID shortened freshman season, Lavezza has managed a tremendous amount of work in his sophomore and junior seasons, good for 130 innings in two years. In those 2 seasons, he has compiled 9 wins and 7 complete games, while holding a 4.40 ERA for his career.
2023 could be a huge year for Lavezza, as he has his eyes on two big accolades that he is closing in on. He is just 27 strikeouts away from reaching 100 career strikeouts, which would put him in an elite group with only a handful of Bethany pitchers in history. He is also 59 innings away from reaching 200 career innings pitched, which has only been achieved 6 times in Bethany’s history. I would not be shocked to see Lavezza reach these feats, as well as adding an All-PAC team to his name.