From pitching technique to throwing accuracy and everything in between, when on the ballfield, it helps for pitchers to know their teammates. Luckily, University of Houston-Victoria sophomore Brayden Blanton has that covered.
As a pitcher for the Jaguars baseball team, he is close with several of his teammates, some of whom he’s played with or against while growing up.
The Victoria native got his first taste of the sport at age 6 when he signed up for T-ball. What began as a trial run, however, turned into a full-fledged passion.
He worked his way up from T-ball. More often than not, his May 1 birthday made him the youngest member of the team. Still, that had advantages.
“I’ve played with older, better guys all my life,” he said. “But that’s good. I think I’ve learned more that way. It’s made me a better player.”
A number of Blanton’s childhood teammates moved up the ranks with him, joining him on youth league or school teams. One childhood friend was Blanton’s teammate last season at UHV. Playing with friends has a lot of benefits, he said.
“It’s a lot easier for me and for them,” Blanton said. “We already know how the others play and how we work together. It really helps.”
Blanton pitched in 16 games for the Jaguars last season. He went 3-5 with an ERA of 5.84. He struck out six batters against UT-Brownsville and closed the year by pitching 3.2 innings of scoreless relief in a win over LSU-Alexandria.
The 19-year-old spends his fair share of time on the diamond, but he has other interests, too.
Hunting and fishing are his favorite pastimes, and any chance to be outside offers a getaway and a chance to relax.
Blanton graduated in 2011 from St. Joseph High School in Victoria. A business major with aspirations of going into petroleum engineering, he said it was UHV’s athletics program and proximity to home that led him to become a Jaguar.
So far, it’s worked out well.
“I like that it’s not a big school,” he said. “You know everybody in your classes, and things are familiar. At a big university, I don’t think you’d have that.”
With the academic year underway, Blanton said his next milestone is Oct. 15, the team’s first fall practice. The fall practices allow returning players to get used to playing with newcomers. The ability to work together and get along is an important element to a successful season, Blanton said.
“You feed off each other when you’re on the field,” he said. “When you get along, you don’t have anybody trying to hurt anybody else’s chances. It makes us all stronger.”
I am a Jaguar is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.