JONES — There are workhorses, and then there is someone like Jones pitcher Blake Estep.
The workhorse term doesn't even do Estep justice. The junior simply did anything the Longhorns needed and anything coach Mike Lowe asked him.
Lowe knew he could always relax when Estep was on the mound. Estep finished the season with an 11-0 record with a 1.91 ERA in helping Jones reach the Class 3A state semifinals.
It wasn't just the perfect record — it was the innings pitched. Estep threw more than 80 innings with 109 strikeouts, but he said he was never once worried about burning out his arm.
The biggest reason? His father has been there before.
“My dad was a pitcher in college, and he's played a big role in everything,” Estep said. “I've learned almost everything I know about the game from him.”
Estep's father, Mike, was a pitcher at Southern Nazarene and Oklahoma Christian and has conditioned his son to make sure Blake remains in top shape.
Blake Estep doesn't have much of a choice, either. Because if he wasn't doing the job on the mound, he was just as effective at the plate. His all-around game makes him The Oklahoman's Little All-City Baseball Player of the Year.
“He works at it real hard and deserves everything he's going to be getting,” Lowe said. “His ability to change speeds was one thing that helped him so much this year. His fastball was usually around 88-89 mph. Then when he'd throw that changeup in the 60s, there wasn't much batters could do.”
As recommended by his father, Estep is also accustomed to throwing 100-pitch bullpen sessions between starts.
Lowe said he saw this season coming for Estep. After a good sophomore year, Estep had a great summer in Florida that only gave him more confidence.
Originally slotted in the two-hole, Lowe said he had to move Estep to third in the batting order because Estep was so productive.
Estep hit .445 with four home runs and 44 RBIs. And there was never a scenario where Estep couldn't be out there as he is a switch hitter.
“I've been that way for a long time, since fourth or fifth grade,” Estep said. “There's never been any question about wanting to play every day.”
Estep had to rein himself in. He said he was trying to do too much as a sophomore, but he found the balance this year.
At 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, Estep has the height of a dominant pitcher but is working on adding the pounds.
“That's what this offseason is about,” said Estep, who will play for a Texas traveling team. “I've already put on 10 pounds since the end of the year so I just have to stick with it.”