ELDRIDGE — Colby Sorensen is having one of those seasons high school pitchers dream about.
His North Scott baseball team is ranked 10th this week in Class 4A and is on the cusp of winning its first outright Mississippi Athletic Conference championship.
Sorensen has been at the forefront, compiling a 5-0 mark and a league-best 0.47 earned-run average and yielding just 12 hits in 30 innings.
“I had high expectations, but I didn’t think it would go nearly this well,” Sorensen said. “I’m really proud of myself right now.”
Even though Sorensen possesses an above-average high school fastball at 83 to 85 miles per hour, the right-hander is not a power pitcher. He doesn’t rank among the MAC’s top 15 pitchers in strikeouts.
Instead, Sorensen has relied on pinpoint control and a stingy defense. The Lancers (21-6, 12-2 MAC) have the conference’s top fielding percentage at .953.
“I want to strike everyone out, but that is never going to happen,” Sorensen said. “The best thing for me is getting ground balls and fly balls. An out is an out.”
Sorensen’s improved accuracy has led to eye-popping results.
After having an ERA hover near 4.00 each of the past two seasons, Sorensen has squandered two earned runs in five starts and opponents are hitting a meager .112 against him.
“Colby is in the zone out there when he’s pitching, and he has a lot of confidence out there,” head coach Blake Hanna said. “He can locate two pitches for strikes. If you can locate two pitches for strikes in high school baseball, that’s huge.
“He is getting ahead of hitters. It is strike one, strike two.”
The numbers prove it.
After walking 27 hitters in 27 innings last year, Sorensen is allowing fewer than two free passes per start this summer.
In addition to a fastball, Sorensen mixes in a curveball, changeup and two-seam fastball.
“He can throw his curveball at any count,” catcher Wyatt Moseley said. “His offspeed stuff has come a long way.
“If he shakes me off, I’m fine with it because I know he can spot the next pitch.”
Sorensen has been pitching since Little League.
However, he primarily threw in nonconference games as a sophomore. He worked his way into the conference rotation last season but was behind seniors Robert Copley and Matt McKinney.
Now, Sorensen has accounted for nearly of half of North Scott’s league wins and is the unquestioned ace of a deep pitching staff.
“I want to have the ball in my hands and be in control,” Sorensen said. “I’m a lot more confident on the mound. I don’t get nervous, and I really trust all my pitches.”
Sorensen fired a one-hit shutout against Davenport West and a two-hitter versus Burlington earlier this month. He plans to pitch at Marshalltown Community College in the fall.
“When you can run a senior out there that’s a captain and been through the battles and wars before, it makes you feel comfortable as a coach,” Hanna said.
And the Lancers haven’t overused him.
With six other pitchers having at least two victories this year, Sorensen has been limited to one start per week.
“When you throw 100 pitches Monday and 100 more on Thursday, that takes a toll on you,” Hanna noted. “Your arm has only so many bullets in it.”
Hanna did admit if the Lancers need Sorensen to pitch next Monday against Muscatine and July 5 vs. Pleasant Valley to close out their first league title since 2002, the coach would do that.
In the meantime, Sorensen is relishing the final chapter of this journey.
North Scott has a three-game cushion over Pleasant Valley, Davenport Assumption and Davenport West going into the final week of the conference race.
Beyond that, the Lancers’ sights are set on reaching the state tournament in Des Moines, a place they haven’t been since 2004.
“We just need to play baseball like we have something to prove and that we’re down in the MAC,” Moseley said. “We’re just having a great time together.”
KING OF THE HILL
A look at the MAC’s top pitchers:
Pitcher, School W-L ERA
Colby Sorensen, NS 5-0 0.47
Derek Burkamper, Musc. 6-2 0.91
Vinny Cannavo, West 4-3 1.43
Nick Warner, NS 3-0 1.52
Brock Neuhaus, PV 5-1 1.63
Matt Ulrich, Bett. 6-2 2.97