Ace Foust proves mettle in Burnet win

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Slater Foust has been the ace of the Liberty Hill pitching staff this season, leading the team in innings, strikeouts, and ERA. Foust tossed a complete game two-hitter in Liberty Hill’s first district win of the season against Burnet last Tuesday evening. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Slater Foust has been the ace of the Liberty Hill pitching staff this season, leading the team in innings, strikeouts, and ERA. Foust tossed a complete game two-hitter in Liberty Hill’s first district win of the season against Burnet last Tuesday evening. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By MIKE SCHOEFFEL

Slater Foust knows he’s not going to blow away hitters with a 90-mile per hour fastball. That’s fine by him, because the ace of Liberty Hill rotation knows how to get outs without relying on sheer velocity.

“I don’t throw too hard, so I have to live on my movement,” he said. “My breaking stuff is what I use to get guys out.”

That approach has worked for Foust thus far. The Panthers most dominant starter leads the team in all meaningful statistical pitching categories, including innings pitched (25), ERA (2.80, minimum 15 innings pitched), and strikeouts (27).

He’s pretty solid at the plate, too, batting a cool .370 with five RBI.

But it’s on the mound that Foust has made his most valuable contributions.

The senior threw perhaps his best game of the year in Liberty Hill’s first district win last Tuesday evening over Burnet. Foust’s breaking stuff was working as well — or better — than it has all season, and he ended up with six strikeouts in a complete game two-hitter. The Panthers won, 1-0.

Foust said he felt supremely confident before taking the hill.

“I felt like I was in the zone from the get-go,” he said. “My ball had a lot of movement on it. My off-speed stuff was working great and I was very happy with that. I was locating and hitting my spots well.”

As well as he pitched, he did have to work his way out of several jams. With runners on second and third and one out in the top of the fifth, and his team up 1-0, Foust induced a weak ground ball to preserve the lead.

“He’s a competitor,” said Liberty Hill head coach Mike Kristan. “We know when the going gets tough, he’s going to do his best to buckle down.”

Foust allowed a leadoff double in the top of the seventh. But thanks to some crafty pitching — and an outstanding play by second baseman Garrett Wright — Foust worked out of the final stressful situation of the evening.

“I can work out of those jams,” he said. “Sometimes my confidence does get me in trouble, though, like when I gave up that double in the last inning. But I felt level-headed. It was three-up, three-down after that.”

Kristan gave a positive critique of his ace’s performance.

“He only threw about 70 pitches and made some good defensive plays, too,” said the coach. “They hit the ball solid only once or twice all night. I think that’s a testament to the sort of stuff he has in his repertoire.”

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