LHS junior finds sidearm success
LEBANON -- In baseball, sometimes the slightest adjustment can reap huge dividends. Case in point -- Lebanon High junior pitcher Daniel Holmes.
A marginal member of the Blue Devil pitching staff a year ago, the right-hander has blossomed into a dominating team leader after changing his arm slot back in the fall.
Dropping down to a modified sidearm delivery, Holmes is off to a 4-0 record with back-to-back decisions over District 9-AAA rivals Portland and Gallatin.
He threw a complete game two-hitter Tuesday, April 5 against the Panthers, striking out 11 and walking just one batter.
The idea for Daniel to experiment with a sidearm delivery was the brainchild of LHS assistant coach Eric Mull.
A former All-American infielder at Cumberland, the California native coached high school ball in his home state before returning to Tennessee a year ago.
"Back in California, we had a first baseman who pitched a little," Mull said. "He dropped down and was pretty effective doing that.
"We were in the weight room one day and I suggested it to Daniel and he was on board with it from day one. Daniel threw a lot of bullpens in the fall, hit a few batters, knocked some holes in the wall of our building, but he kept getting better."
"It was kind of hard the first few months, getting the mechanics down," Holmes said, "but now it's pretty much second nature."
LHS pitching coach Jerry Bell is sold on the conversion.
"Daniel has tremendous movement on the ball," said Bell, who pitched four years in the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers.
"He keeps the ball down and is an absolute different guy from where he was a year ago. He's dealing right now. It's pretty obvious he's having a great time. We're all proud for him."
"We knew having someone with different arm angles could be effective for us -- if they could locate the ball," said LHS head coach Eric Vetetoe. "Daniel worked hard during the off season to to get comfortable with the different mechanics.
"He's got great movement and that makes it tough for people to barrel him up."
Holmes and his family moved to Lebanon from Greenbrier during his sixth grade year. He pitched at Baird Middle School but didn't do much in the way of summer ball.
"Now after every game we have coaches wanting to know about his summer plans," Mull said. "He's one of the best kids we have.
"Daniel struck out 11 Tuesday night and here he is on Wednesday helping hose down the infield. He never complains, he works hard and never misses a practice.
"The whole team is just happy for him in general, because there were some people who thought he'd never pitch at this level."