Paul Tillotson is not playing like a sophomore, and that's great news for the Lewis-Palmer baseball team.
He has been dangerous with both his arm and his bat this season, and both were on full display in a 10-1 win over Air Academy last week.
Tillotson struck out 12 batters in six innings on the mound, earning the win, and led the L-P offense, going 4 for 5 with a home run.
"Paul has gone out there with the right attitude, and he's fitting in well with our club and we're meshing well," L-P coach Tom McCabe said. "He knows he can be a leader on this team and he's attacking the ball. He goes hard on the field, but he also has a good sense of humor, which helps take pressure off him and the team."
As well as Tillotson hit the ball, his pitching against the Kadets was equally impressive. In its first six games of the season, Air Academy was averaging eight runs scored per game.
"It was just one of those games where I had everything going right and I felt good," Tillotson said. "I knew I had to keep them off balance, and my off-speed pitches helped immensely in doing that."
During his freshman campaign, Tillotson showed promise on the mound, but he relied too heavily on his fastball. McCabe wanted him to add some pitches in the offseason.
"The goal was to have Paul come back with other pitches than the great fastball he already had," McCabe said. "He now has a fastball, curveball and changeup, and is effective with all of them. His mechanics are very good and he gets his money's worth."
Earlier in the week - before he conquered Air Academy - Tillotson went 3 for 3 with four runs scored and two RBIs in a 13-3 win over 5A Palmer.
He says that while his pitching has looked good so far this season, he feels that his bat is the stronger part of his game right now.
"I'm hitting better than I'm pitching right now because we're still early in the season, and I'm getting my arm used to pitching again," Tillotson said. "My pitching will catch up to the hitting soon."
That's a scary thought for any team that has to face the sophomore. McCabe says that even though he may be young, Tillotson is a leader.
"With the prep work he and the team did this offseason, it's helped us," McCabe said. "They're not a cocky group, and they play well off each other and help each other. They are a true team, and it's a great team to coach."
Tillotson has stepped into a leadership role with his strong play on the field.
"I think anybody can be a leader as long as they have the courage to lead and devotion to their teammates," he said. "I'd say we're ahead of schedule right now, and we've beat some good teams. Each game I just want myself and our team to improve."