Athletic News

Pitcher hails from Smithville H.S.

Shockley hopes southpaw is a knockout

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The popular term used to describe a left-handed pitcher is to call them a southpaw. It actually got its start in boxing.

A lefty commonly leads with their right foot and right hand, and would follow with their left. The tactical term, a southpaw, is a mirror-image to the orthodox strategy of righties, though it is not limited to left-handers.

The origin and reasoning of the moniker for baseball is listed below.

In baseball, like boxing, having southpaws can be real advantage. After graduating three lefty hurlers, Southwestern Assemblies of God University head coach Jonathan Shockley, took a solid step to fill the void by signing Skyler James Gilstrap. He inked his National Letter of Intent inside the Claxton Gymnasium at SAGU.

A 6-foot, 170-pounder, Gilstrap was born in Austin and is a spring graduate from Smithville (42 miles southeast of Austin) High School.

His parents are Bradley and Cathy and his siblings are Justin (22) and Emma (14).

“I really like this young man,” said Coach Shockley. “He’s a very effective left-hander and has good velocity. I am confident he’ll develop and he will serve the Lions well.”

As a starter on the mound his last two years for the Class 3A Tigers, Gilstrap earned All-Bastrop County Rookie of the Year in 2011, the same season he was chosen as a First Team All-District 23 Pitcher.

That year coincided with the first time in school history the Striped Cats made it to the second round of the state playoffs.

Smithville head coach Ryan Moerbe described Skyler as a “…hard-working young man who loves the game of baseball."

During the spring he made the All-District Honorable Mention list as an outfielder, where he played when not on the mound.

Gilstrap enjoyed success while playing for the University of Baseball “Big Dogs” select team under head coach James Bills in recent fall and summer leagues.

The club went 22-6-2 last season and has won three championships. Gilstrap batted .360 and had an earned run average under 2.00.

"He is not just a great ball player,” pointed out Coach Bills, “he’s an outstanding young man who will be very successful in life."

Skyler was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars. He has yet to decide on his field of study at Southwestern.

"I'm excited about coming to SAGU and playing baseball for Coach Shockley,” he quipped on Tuesday. “I feel strongly about Shockley's work ethics and looking forward to the hard-work that it will take to be successful."

Gilstrap’s leadership strength and exemplary effort in practice combined with his desire to “control the game from the mound” could make him a key contributor for a program seeking its first-ever winning season.

The Lions are dual Division I members in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Christian College Athletic Association.

They compete in the Red River Athletic Conference, which has 15 member schools from four states; Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.

The team begins their fall camp on September 24 on their new, on-campus ballpark. The SAGU season starts in late January 2013.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.

Story behind baseball’s use of the “southpaw” terminology:
From the baseball practice of arranging the diamond with the batter facing east to avoid the afternoon sun. A left-handed pitcher facing west would therefore have his pitching arm toward the south of the diamond. (From The Free Dictionary)
 

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