Concord native Ryan Overcash is making an impression as a sophomore starting pitcher at Davidson College this season.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander is 4-0 and one of the top pitchers in the Southern Conference, with a 3.65 ERA.
"He's become pretty reliable for us so far and faced his toughest opponent in Elon," said Davidson coach Dick Cooke.
Overcash struck out a career-high eight batters and allowed just two hits against Elon on March 27, a team that recently swept nationally ranked Clemson. Although Davidson lost the game in extra innings, Cooke was impressed with Overcash's performance.
"He did a great job of getting his fastball in the zone on both sides of the plate, and (Elon's) coach (Mike Kennedy) said his hitters just couldn't get on his pitches because Overcash kept it out of the middle of the plate with confidence," said Cooke.
The decision to play collegiate baseball at Davidson, one of the most prestigious private schools in the Carolinas, came as a surprise to Overcash. Growing up in nearby Concord, Overcash never envisioned himself pitching for Davidson.
"I didn't even really think about going to Davidson, and then they came knocking my senior year, and you just can't pass this place up academically or athletically," the economics major said.
In his first year pitching for Davidson, Overcash appeared in 19 games and made six starts to finish 1-2 with a 6.15 ERA. His shining moment of the season came against Duke, when he pitched a career-high six innings, allowed just one run and fanned three batters.
"I feel like I've developed a lot as a player from my high school years to where I'm at now," said Overcash.
Overcash says Cooke and pitching coach Mike Zandler have been instrumental in helping him develop into a collegiate-level hurler.
During his high school career pitching for Northwest Cabarrus, Overcash was named all-conference, 2006-2008. He also was named team MVP for those years and was a four-time scholar athlete. His senior year, he struck out a career-high 96 batters and went 9-1.
"It all starts with my fastball, and I think I threw effectively against Elon," said Overcash. "In high school, all I had was a fastball and a loopy curve, but now I feel like a more complete pitcher. It just takes a little time with the transition from high school to college, and I think I'm getting closer to where I want to be."
Cooke, in his 20th season at the helm at Davidson, considers Overcash a thinking man's pitcher and a player who has plenty of potential to become a standout pitcher in the Southern Conference.
"Ryan has a definite concept of what he wants to do out there on the mound. He's got the ability, and he has what they call today a good pitching IQ," Cooke said. "A lot of guys don't have that and have no idea what they're doing out there on the mound. Not Ryan. I can tell he can differentiate quickly which pitch is going to work and which pitch isn't. He's shown a good aptitude to learn, and he has an inherent ability to throw the ball in the strike zone."