Colin Woodham’s been a featured pitcher for Stanhope Elmore’s high school team since he was in eighth grade.
That summer, the coaches on the Mustangs’ varsity staff called him up to pitch during the stretch run of their season. Woodham appeared in nine games, tossing 10.2 innings with an ERA of 8.53.
He was even handed the ball to start in Stanhope’s first playoff game that season against Russell County.
“Even though we’ve had older guys pitch, I felt more comfortable with him on the mound as an eighth grader than a lot of our seniors that year,” Stanhope senior pitcher Christian Mozingo, then a sophomore, said. “Just because he felt like he actually wanted to be in the situation, he didn’t fear it.”
Woodham made it through two innings with only one run allowed before surrendering five in the third inning. The Warriors won that game 9-0, then beat Stanhope 18-3 later that day to eliminate the team from the playoffs.
Woodham’s efforts didn’t lead to a win for the Mustangs that day, but it served as the stepping stone to the now-sophomore’s reputation as a productive pitcher with a hauntingly tranquil demeanor on the mound.
“It was crazy,” Woodham said. “I was really nervous -- I don’t really remember much of it. But I trusted my stuff and we got it done.”
Stanhope baseball coach Kaleb Shuman arrived ahead of Woodham’s freshman year on the mound, and said it was clear before the season started that Woodham was the best hurler on the Mustangs’ roster.
“A lot of people say ‘their ace,” Stanhope coach Kaleb Shuman said. “But like he actually is an ace. He’s the kind of guy that, no matter who we’re playing, if I run him out there on the mound I feel like we have a legitimate chance to win the game.”
Woodham made mincemeat of opposing batters his freshman season, to the tune of a 2-0 record, 0.41 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.5.
Through 26 innings in his sophomore campaign, he boasts a 4-0 record and 0.81 ERA.
Shuman along with Stanhope’s players and parents all described Woodham’s pitching approach the same way -- the left-hander is always poised.
“He gets on the mound and everything looks intentional,” Shuman said. “Everything looks deliberate, like he planned it. I think the kid could fall down and look cool doing it. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”
Woodham may not externalize the emotion, but he does feel pressure, he said.
He just puts his faith in his defense and fixates on the strike zone.
“It gives me confidence, really, that I can sit there and let them hit it,” Woodham said. “Just throw strikes. I ain’t gotta worry about people not doing their jobs.”
Shuman said it helps to have the pitch arsenal that Woodham does. It’s highlighted by a sinker that has catastrophic movement.
“His ball doesn’t just move away from the right-handed hitters, it looks like a right hander’s slider,” Shuman said. “On every fastball he throws. It makes it really difficult because, if you know a kid in high school baseball that can throw an 82, 83 mile per hour slider, he’s probably really good. Colin can do that every time he throws a fastball.”
In spite of the complex movement he puts on it, Woodham described his development of his sinker rather bluntly. He just grips the ball and throws it like his two-seam fastball and it “does what it wants to.”
Woodham isn’t the only underclassman who’s galloped to the top of the Mustangs’ rotation. Fellow sophomore Zach Stevens has emerged as Stanhope’s go-to option behind Woodham.
The two have been friends since age 7, when they played fall baseball together for the first time.
“Ever since then, we’ve been best buds, doing everything together,” Woodham said. “It’s been really fun.”
Zach Stevens’ dad, Allan, even coached Woodham at the earliest parts of his baseball career.
The elder Stevens said Woodham’s level demeanor even leaks into his time off the field when he’s hanging out with Zach.
“He’s that way at my house,” Allan Stevens said. “And it’s not blank, like he doesn’t know what’s going on. He knows baseball.”
While it’s difficult to improve statistically upon the numbers Woodham has, Mozingo said where the sophomore has matured is in his leadership.
“Even when he’s on the mound, he doesn’t get frustrated when somebody makes an error,” Mozingo said. “He really strives to be a team player and lead by example.”
Removing the three losses he sustained as an eighth grader, Woodham is undefeated in his high school pitching career. He said his No. 1 goal for this season is to maintain that unblemished record.
Woodham will take the mound again against Prattville, the No. 4 team in Alabama Class 7A according to the ASWA, Saturday. The first pitch is at 2 p.m.