First out of the bullpen

Huiras hones his hurling at Bethany Lutheran College

Photo by Kenzie Schmidt Bethany Lutheran College’s Jackson Huiras throws a pitch in an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference game against Crown College on April 28 at BLC. Bethany won the game 12-8.

MANKATO — After winning the All-Journal Baseball Player of the Year and Tomahawk Conference Co-Player of the Year in 2022, Jackson Huiras is finding success at the next level, being the first pitcher out of the bullpen this spring for the Bethany Lutheran College baseball team in Mankato.

Huiras, a graduate of Sleepy Eye High School, had an excellent senior season with the Indians, maintaining a .400 batting average with 8 doubles, four triples, and 37 runs scored, all good for team leader. He also posted a 0.27 ERA and 91 strikouts on the mound, helping Sleepy Eye go to the elimination bracket semifinal game in the Section 2A baseball playoffs.

At Bethany, Huiras has dropped his two-way play to focus on pitching. As of Monday, May 1, he has pitched 20.2 innings, allowing only 12 hits, four earned runs, and recorded 21 strikouts and 1.74 ERA, the lowest for any Bethany pitcher with more than 10 innings pitched. He has also held opposing batters to a .171 batting average and has two saves on the year. His season high in strikeouts came on April 14 at Northwestern College, where he retired six batters by punchout and secured the win for Bethany in four innings pitched.

Huiras says the biggest difference between high school and college ball is how hitters are able to punish bad location on pitches. Huiras knows if he doesn’t have great control over his fast ball, college-level athletes are able to drive a throw down the middle much more effectively than in high school.

Huiras made the decision to focus on pitching over hitting so he can refine that talent. The number one thing he wants to improve on is mechanics. He will be attending a pitching camp over the summer to do just that.

File photo by Travis Rosenau Sleepy Eye’s Jackson Huiras applies a tag against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s in a Section 2A baseball playoff game on June 6, 2022 at ISG Field in Mankato.

Huiras is very enthusiastic about playing for Bethany. He feels a strong sense of community in both the baseball team and the campus in general. Coming from a smaller school in Sleepy Eye, Huiras felt right at home at the smaller campus of BLC. On the team, Huiras feels the community is tight and truly feels like a family, with everyone being encouraging and always having each other’s back. Huiras says that he enjoys spending time outside of practice and class with his teammates, many of whom live on the same floor as his dorm room — playing video games, eating meals and having conversations.

Hurias’s favorite pitch is his slider. Though he has had trouble keeping it under control in the past, he has begun to rely on it more and more as the season goes on. Combined with his fastball, he feels that it is an effective tool in keeping batters off-balance and can be a solid strikeout pitch.

After some conversations with his coaching staff, Hurias think’s it’s likely he will see a bigger and bigger role as he continues to get experience pitching at the college level. Though his team likes his role as the top pitcher out of the bullpen, he may soon see some starts at the mound, if not this season, then perhaps the next.

File photo by Travis Rosenau Jackson Huiras goes to the plate for Sleepy Eye in a section 2A baseball playoff game against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s on June 6, 2022 at ISG Field in Mankato.


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