Hard-throwing righthander has one season left before Division I calling
CHARLES TOWN – Two years ago, then-sophomore pitcher Jared Silva watched firsthand as teammate and Washington senior Ryan Pansch tore through the regular season undefeated and pitched a pair of winning efforts as the Patriots claimed their first postseason sectional title.
Now comes Silva’s turn to lead Washington, and the 6-4, 195-pound right-hander will be trying to make sure this season resembles 2012 more than 2013.
Last spring, the Patriots finished the regular season 10-15 before being ousted from the sectional tournament by cross-county rival Jefferson after losing a three-game series. But among the bright spots a year ago for Washington was a pitching staff that registered an overall 3.12 earned run average, including Silva’s 2.33 ERA through 27 innings pitched.
He tallied a 3-3 record from seven starts and following a junior campaign that showed promise, Silva signed a scholarship in the offseason to pitch Division I baseball next year at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.
“It’s a great school academically,” Silva said. “My plan was to major in business and economics, which I’m going to do. They have the highest accreditation you can get as a business program. They’re one of the 5 percent that have it.”
But before Silva can attend to business as a member of the Keydets’ pitching staff, he has one season remaining in a Washington uniform. The Patriots were scheduled to host East Hardy after press time on Tuesday.
Following an offseason that saw him do Cross Fit with a personal trainer and pitch in the local high school fall baseball league, Silva took the mound Thursday for his first outing of the season and pitched 3.1 innings of no-hit baseball in relief as Washington came from behind to defeat Spring Mills, 9-4.
Silva, who was clocked last fall as high as 89 miles per hour, but averages between 84 mph and 87 mph, used his normal array of pitches – a fastball, curveball, slider and cutter – en route to six strikeouts and one walk.
“Watching Ryan two years ago, that was a lot of fun, especially because I didn’t have to do a lot of work out there in the field,” said Silva, who plays first base when he isn’t pitching. “I’m kind of looking to have a season like he did. He kind of put the team on his back every time he was out there on the mound and we could expect a win. That’s what I want to do with the team here. Have them expect a win every time I’m out there.”
The long hours and devotion in the offseason appeared to pay off as Silva retired 9-of-10 batters he faced against Spring Mills; the only base runner allowed being from the walk he surrendered.
“It felt good for the first game,” Silva said. “I started working on a slider last year. It’s easier to command that, so I started working on a slider a lot, last summer and through the fall. Now I’m kind of throwing that as a secondary pitch. I got a couple guys with that (Thursday).”
Silva said he has also been working with a changeup, but “I don’t have complete confidence in the command I have with it right now. But I definitely want to work on that, especially with going to college this fall. I kind of want to have that mastered down before I get there.
“I want to really help my team so we can win and do something this year,” Silva added. “Maybe make it to states. I’m looking to get seven or eight starts in and hopefully win them all. I want to strike out as many as I can and keep the ball on the ground so my defense can make plays.”
Washington head coach Mark Hash acknowledged Silva’s hard work in during the offseason and said that will only serve to help his ace meet his goals this season. But Hash also said Silva has a tendency to place a lot of pressure on himself, and that can detract from his overall effectiveness. Hash said the coaching staff has been working on the mental aspect of the game with their No. 1 pitcher.
“We start conditioning our kids in November in the weight room,” Hash said. “Jared didn’t miss a day in the conditioning part from November through February. He worked hard. But, of course, he knows he needs to work hard. A Division I guy, he knows it’s going to be a year-round thing for him once he gets there. That will be to his benefit.”
But for now, “I think he puts a lot of undue pressure on himself at times,” Hash added. “We’ve worked with him and talked with him about that for four years now. Hopefully, he’ll go out there and keep his emotions under control and not put so much pressure on himself, and he’ll have a great year.”
Silva pitched sparingly for varsity as a freshman before becoming a regular member of the rotation as a sophomore. He became the No. 1 starter as a junior following the graduation of Ryan Pansch, who is now pitching at Shepherd University.
“Ryan was throwing the ball mid-to-upper 80s,” Hash said. “He had that mentality that here it comes. It’s me against you. Here’s what I got. Let’s see what you’ve got. We’ve talked about that with Jared. He’s got that capability, and we’ve talked about him trying to get that mentality and go right at people. I think he’s ready to do that.”