Statistics alone aren’t qualified to illustrate the maturity Drue Young gained as a baseball player between his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Those, it turns out, are merely a positive byproduct.
Young, a 5-foot-7, 185-pound sophomore right-handed pitcher for Indiana Wesleyan, was leading the Wildcats (20-11-1) pitching staff in various categories heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader at Mt. Vernon Nazarene.
The former Center Grove player is one of the reasons IWU was looking to improve its league-leading 15-3 record in the NAIA’s Crossroads League.
“The game is not going to change for me, so I had to change the way I went about my work,” Young said. “College baseball is a whole different game than high school regardless of the level you’re at.
“I would 100% do whatever the team needs, but I just really love starting.”
Young’s first collegiate appearance came in the fourth game of Indiana Wesleyan’s 2022 season, 2 2/3 innings of relief in which he allowed two hits and two runs in a 7-6 loss at Lindsey Wilson.
He eventually worked his way into the starting rotation, finishing his freshman season with 63 innings pitched, 55 strikeouts and 25 walks. While satisfied with his accomplishments, Young realized work had to be done in order to advance his career the way he had envisioned.
Over the summer, Young drove to PRP, a training center in Noblesville, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday where from 2 p.m. to 5 or 5:30 p.m. he worked on improving his strength and pitching mechanics.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he worked out at a facility closer to home.
“It’s definitely a surprise to some people, but I think it’s a testament to how hard I’ve had to work,” Young said of the season he’s having. “I’m definitely proudest of the mental toughness aspect.”
During his time at Center Grove, Young’s fastball topped out around 85 or 86 miles per hour. It’s now in the 89 to 91 range with the occasional 92-mph frozen rope thrown in for good measure.
“Right now, I have four pitches. A fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider,” Young said. “My best two are probably the slider and fastball, but my changeup is right up there, too.
“Our coaches do a good job making sure that out catchers have a good scouting report on the opposing hitters. My pitching coach (Ian McDonald) emphasizes on pitching to our strengths.”
Young entered Wednesday’s twinbill with a 3-1 record, 3.33 earned run average, 48 2/3 innings pitched and 58 strikeouts — all team bests.
He isn’t the only one in the family making the most of this baseball season. Drue’s brother Jackson, a 2019 Center Grove product and a senior pitcher at Franklin College, is 4-0 with a 4.10 ERA.
Eighth-year IWU coach Rich Benjamin has had former Center Grove players go through his program, and he’s always impressed at how college-ready they are once the season begins. Drue Young has been no different.
“Drue is a guy Center Grove leaned on really hard his senior year,” Banjamin said. “His key to success here is the continued work ethic he brought in, but also his ability to not only receive coaching, but apply it effectively quickly.”
Benjamin looks forward to watching his sophomore righty progress the remainder of this season and for the remainder of his college baseball career.
“Drue is a really strong kid. He’s coming from a different pitch height, but his stuff is just good,” Benjamin said. “The pitches are legit. It’s always going to be his best against your best.”