CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- "I grew up a Saluki fan, lived here basically my whole life and just being able to be up on that mound starting for the team I grew up being a fan of and just loving is unreal," SIU pitcher Mitchell Jackson said.
Marion grad and SIU freshman Mitchell Jackson got his first career start this week. He went 4 innings against Murray State, givng up 1 earned run on 2 hits, walking two batters and striking out two.
"I had a lot more nerves than usual but I think I worked it out right before I went on the mound and just got comfortable out there throwing my warm up pitches and it's great because being around here I've pitched games on that mound before so I was comfortable with the field but I wasn't so comfortable with all the spectators and so many people at one time but I think I got comfortable after the first and settled in pretty well."
The Salukis have put a lot of trust in the 6-5 170 pound freshman. The right handed pitcher has made 4 apeearances and sports a 1.86 ERA
"Coming here I honestly didn't think I was going to throw that many innings. I didn't know if I could catch up with the other guys, the older guys that have been here being a freshman and being so skinny and not a lot of weight on me."
Nothing beats experience. In the second inning, Jackson pitched himself out of a jam.
"I've learned I got to pitch to what I need so with that double-play I only had one out, guy on first and I tried to work down and pitch low to get that guy to ground out and with our infielders behind us Nick Neville, older guy played SEC baseball and Ian Walters, Grey Epps, those guys, older guys, I have all the trust in the world in them to make plays.
In the 4th inning the Racers scored and were still threatening, Jackson didn't panic, SIU left him in the game and he delivered.
"I was extrememly happy that they let me do that because I honestly thought they were going to take me out and bring in Steidl (Matthew) who's pitched amazing this year and I thought they were going to bring him in to coast to the end but for them to allow me to work through that was great because I like to experience new things and I like to try to get through that so I wouldn't be new to it the next time it happens and kind of be more comfortable with the situation next I get put in the same situation."
Tim Jamieson is the Salukis pitching coach. He spent 22 years at Mizzou and coached top pitcherrs like 3 time cy young winner max scherzer so Jackson is soaking in all the knowledge coach has to offer.
He just knows so much. He's very knowledgeable of the game and very knowledgeable on how to teach us on what we need to learn and how to coach us and the way he does and he's very chill and very relaxed whenever coaching us and I think that helps us pitchers work with him more and trust him more. and being there and talking to us just like hes a player himself.
The young pitcher also has his mom to lean on. She played softball at SIU.
She's my number one supporter. She calls me, texts me everyday telling me good luck, be safe, pitch my heart out and I think that's one of the main reasons I'm doing this right now, I'm pitching well is because of her and her help."