Ace emerges from BLHS deck
BLHS junior Josh Ishmael has quickly become the ace of the Bobcats pitching staff
Josh Ishmael didn't start off the year as Basehor-Linwood's ace pitcher.
Before the season opener on April 1, Ishmael was just one arm in a stable full of Basehor pitchers with potential but no varsity experience.
What a difference a month has made. Ishmael overtook all his teammates early in the year to become the team's undisputed ace and now the Bobcats' hopes for a successful season rest on him more than any other pitcher.
"I am a firm believer that consistency over the long haul is what elevates players to "A" status," Basehor coach Dave Svoboda said. "Josh has just been so consistently good (that) by outing two he had elevated himself to that status."
Ishmael said he didn't mind that he wasn't recognized as the team's top pitcher at the start of the year.
"It just gave me more determination to go get that spot," he said.
Ishmael hasn't blown away many teams with sheer velocity this year, but he's been effective through mixing pitches, hitting his spots and sometimes, by sheer determination.
Ishmael pitched against Lansing on Monday despite fighting off flu-like symptoms all morning and barely getting to school in time to be eligible for the game.
He looked fatigued in his first inning, allowing a double that scored a run and put runners at second and third with just one out. But he battled, getting the next two batters to pop-up to the infield and end the threat with minimal damage.
The inning was classic Ishmael this year. Time and again he's stayed poised when the other team threatens to score, working out of jams and preventing the big inning. Though he gets his share of strikeouts, the key to his success has been trusting his defense, not blowing it by people.
"He's hitting his spots real well right now," catcher Kyle Speichinger said. "When you hit your spots, you're going to get wins because you're going to get a lot of ground balls and pop-ups."
After the Lansing game, Svoboda praised Ishmael's guts and determination. He said what impressed him most about Ishmael mentally was that he showed no concern for his statistics. Specifically, Ishmael has been willing to step in against teams like Lansing and step aside and let some of the other pitchers go against Basehor's weaker opponents.
"He knows he'll be our guy when we go against the good teams, and he's stepped up to the challenge with no complaints," Svoboda said. "It's great to have a guy like Josh as a junior getting this kind of experience for next year."
Speichinger, who has caught most of Ishmael's games this year, is also a junior, meaning Basehor will have one of the league's most experienced and talented batteries next year. Spe
ichinger praised Ishmael's consistency this year, noting that the right-hander really hasn't had a bad start all year.
Although his role on the team has grown, Ishmael has maintained that consistency by keeping the same mindset on the mound and not trying to do too much.
"I just want to keep throwing the way I have all year," Ishmael said.