Avallone's pitching fuels the Hawkeyes Club Baseball Team

BY SCOTT ALBANESE | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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Elite pitching is hard to find. Fortunately for the Iowa Hawkeyes Club Baseball team, it has Jason Avallone. The sophomore from Naperville, Ill., just recently led his team to its fifth-straight Mid-America North Conference Championship. The 6-3 lefty has allowed just 3 earned runs over 38 innings this year.

Even more, his 0.55 ERA has placed him at the top of the leader boards in National Club Baseball Association Division I baseball.

Avallone attributes some of his success to his father, Mike, who was a former pitcher for Northern Illinois. Mike Avallone also worked his way into the Chicago Cubs’ minor leagues in the ’70s.

“He has really taught me everything I know, and I’ve always looked up to him for his baseball career,” Avallone said.

Avallone’s success stemmed from taking a stronger mental approach this year. Other than improving physically, he has learned how to pitch to different types of hitters and really control the flow of the game.

“I put a big emphasis on getting ahead in the count on hitters because that gives me a chance to keep them guessing at the plate,” Avallone said.

The approach has paid off well for the sophomore. After being a little nervous in his freshman year, Avallone then realized he could compete at a high level. He understood he could out-smart opponents by astutely analyzing certain hitters and situations. This mental approach led to a very successful sophomore campaign. His hard work has been well noted by his teammates, too.

“He’s a great kid, great player,” said sophomore second-basemen Ryan Leslie. “The thing he does so well is he remembers what hitters have done against him their last time up.”

By remembering past hitter’s approaches, Avallone is then able to adjust his approach. Leslie described this unpredictability as something that hitters have a hard time picking up when facing the southpaw pitcher, which he can vouch for when facing Avallone in practices and scrimmages.

Avallone’s teammates were also quick to talk about his leadership both on and off the field. Senior catcher Logan Cimmiyotti works with Avallone the most, and he said Avallone has a big effect on the team.

“Jason’s a leader,” Cimmiyotti said. “During anytime we have practice, he’s always there helping the other guys out, trying to work with fundamentals, trying to help establish pitches better for the other guys as well …While he’s also working on his own stuff, trying to get better.”

Avallone makes sure he stays with his routine to give him the most success possible. Making sure he gets a good night’s rest the night before a game and eating a good meal shortly before the game are some of the smaller things Avallone focuses on.

The club Hawkeyes will head down to Tampa, Fla., next week to participate in the 2013 Division I World Series after winning their regional this past weekend. Avallone will lead an already confident club baseball squad to try to claim a national championship.

“We are excited to be there and hope to do some damage,” Leslie said. “We have a lot of confidence in Jason. We are most likely looking for him to start Game 1, and then, if we make it deep, have him come back.”

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