May 24, 2017

Josh Fleming: Male Athlete of the Year

Junior starting pitcher Josh Fleming overcame injury to have a record breaking season for the Gorloks.

With two games remaining, he holds the school’s all-time single season record for lowest ERA (0.65) and opponent’s batting average (.155).

Fleming has only allowed four earned runs all season long. To put things in perspective, his ERA is almost twice as low as the next closest pitcher in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) this season.

Head coach Bill Kurich said Fleming has just overpowered opposing batters this season.

“He kind of goes right after them,” Kurich said. “He throws three good pitches for strikes and is very tough to deal with.”

Last season, Fleming missed the first half of the season with elbow soreness. He has not missed a start this season and leads the team in innings pitched.

Kurich said Fleming has not had any setbacks this season.

“He never misses a throwing session, a bullpen session or anything like that he needs to do between starts,” Kurich said. “He is a strong young man and he is ready to go.”

Fleming said he does let himself get down if he makes a mistake on the mound. He also said it is important to have the mentality that no one can beat you.

“I think just staying focused and being locked in during big moments has been key for me,” Fleming said. “Keeping my poise on the mound has also been huge.”

Kurich said Fleming is the most composed pitcher on the mound he has ever coached.

“He has really not let anything get away from him all season,” Kurich said. “If he struggles for one hitter, he is able to rectify the problem in a hurry and get himself out of the little trouble he has gotten himself into this year.”

Catcher Adam Naliwajko said Fleming does a good job keeping hitters off balance.

“I think it is the fact that he hits almost every spot and gets ahead in counts so often,” Naliwajko said. “It also helps that he’s probably the only lefty throwing this hard in all of Division III baseball.”

Photo Credit: Carolynne Barrow

Photo Credit: Carolynne Barrow

Fleming leads the team with 92 strikeouts, which ranks second in the conference. It is also second all-time for a single season in school history.

Fleming said his inside fastball is his go to pitch when he is in a jam. He also said he has confidence in all his pitches, even when he does not have his best stuff.

“When I’m having trouble hitting my spots, I’ll mainly try to throw strikes and let the other team hit the ball,” Fleming said. “I have all the confidence in the world with my defense behind me and I know they will make the plays.”

For the week of April 10, Fleming won SLIAC pitcher of the week. He won two starts against MacMurray State and Iowa Wesleyan.

Fleming credited his defense for his performance in which he only allowed three hits in 13 innings pitched.

“Every pitch I have felt like I had command of and could throw it anywhere I wanted to,” Fleming said. “I had really good defense behind me, too.”

Both Kurich and Naliwajko said Fleming’s best performance this season was a no-decision loss against Spalding University. Fleming went eight scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts.

Kurich said Fleming is usually opposed by the other team’s best starting pitcher, but always gives the team a chance to win.

“Josh is only 5-0 [6-0], and there is four starts he did not win and got a no decision,” Kurich said. “It’s just purely of product of us not scoring enough runs for him.”

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