Hunter Christopher: Pitcher of the year
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, June 18, 2017
J.H. Rose fans saw Hunter Christopher emerge as the leader of the Rampants’ pitching staff in his junior season.
Or, at least, they did if they were watching close enough.
In his first season as JHR’s No. 1 starter, Christopher, an N.C. State commit, used an exceptionally fast pace to frustrate opponents and put together an 8-0 record in a season that earned him The Daily Reflector’s Pitcher of the Year award. After throwing just 14 innings as a sophomore, the 6-foot-2 righty used his quick-working style to help stifle offenses in 13 appearances this season.
“When I pitch, I try to get in that groove to keep the game upbeat and try to stay in that zone,” Christopher said. “I feel like it definitely helps because they feel rushed, and in a way, they’re going to start guessing what pitches are coming because it’s just one right after the other.”
Christopher threw 56.1 innings as a junior, striking out 59 batters and posting an ERA of 1.62. He went the distance in five of his 10 starts and threw three shutouts, while picking up a save along the way.
Ascending to the top of the list of JHR’s pitching options was a big shift from his sophomore season, but Christopher took the move in stride. He made three starts in 2016, but was Rose’s starter in its season opener this year against Washington, where he threw five shutout innings and earned a victory.
He struck out a season-high 10 in a complete game two-hitter against D.H. Conley on April 7. He was spectacular in his two postseason starts, allowing a combined eight hits and three runs in 12.1 innings while striking out 13.
“Last year, I didn’t really get that many innings as a pitcher,” he said. “I wasn’t one of the main guys. This year, I had to take that role as one of the main guys in the rotation and do what I could to help win. I took it and tried running with it. I did the best I could with it.”
Though the Rampants came up a victory short of a berth in the 4-A East finals, Christopher said he thought the season laid a foundation for them to build on next year.
“The fourth round is a great goal, a great accomplishment,” he said. “Last year, we lost in the fourth round, as well. The fourth round is a great goal, so even though we lost in that round, it’s still a great season to look back on.”
Contact Jordan Anders at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.