Facing a lineup that’s batting a collective .310 can be daunting as a freshman, but Virginia Tech pitcher Ian Seymour says the nerves don’t get to him too bad.
“There’s definitely some nerves every time, but we work a lot on the mental aspects of the game,” Seymour said following Virginia Tech’s 1-0 loss to NC State on March 31st. “That helps, I guess for me personally, to get out there.”
Despite not getting the win, Seymour pitched a terrific game against the Wolfpack, going 6.2 innings and striking out seven batters. Seymour exited that game without allowing a run, and gave up just two walks in his outing.
That wasn’t the first time he had exuded confidence after facing a highly-touted team. Seymour earned his first ACC win against Pittsburgh, who was ranked No. 17 in RPI at the time, on March 9. After the game, he spoke on his mentality when facing more experienced lineups.
“If you go in timid and you go in like you’re a freshman and these guys are older than me, then you’re not gonna do as well, so you’ve got to attack them with everything you have," Seymour said after the game.
Seymour pitched seven innings in that win while giving up one run on four hits. He also set a career high in strikeouts, fanning 10 and becoming the first Virginia Tech freshman to strike out 10 batters in a game since 2005.
But while he was proud of his personal achievement, it wasn’t the biggest thing on his mind.
“It’s definitely a huge accomplishment,” Seymour said about his career day. “I came in here just hoping to contribute in any way that I could and luckily it’s been working out for me so far.”
A six-foot, 190-pound freshman from Westborough, Massachusetts, Seymour has been performing well all season for the Hokies. In seven starts, he’s struck out 51 batters, which ranks second among Hokies pitchers this season to Connor Coward’s 54. He’s 2-1 on the season with a 3.19 ERA so far. He’s rarely had a bad outing when he’s stepped onto the mound.
“That’s what he’s been just about every time out,” head coach John Szefc said about Seymour’s good performance this season. “If you throw out the Purdue start, he’s been money every time he goes out there.”
Seymour gives the Hokies a good shot at winning each time he pitches. Virginia Tech is 3-4 in games he has started this season and the most earned runs he’s allowed in a game is four against Purdue.
“He’s usually pitching past the fifth and giving you an opportunity to go out and win,” Szefc said. “That’s all you can really ask the guy to do.”
His ability to go deep into games is another factor that helps the Hokies win when Seymour starts. He’s thrown over 100 pitches in a game four times, including throwing 124 pitches in his win against Pitt.
Coming out of St. John’s High School, Ian Seymour brought winning experience with him. His team won the Division 1A Super 8 State Championship his senior year. Seymour was also named the Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Super 8 MVP in 2017. During his senior season at St. John’s, Seymour went 4-0 on the mound with a 0.48 ERA.
Before he started his career at Virginia Tech, his coaches were excited about his potential with the Hokies. First-year pitching coach Ryan Fecteau praised Seymour’s performance this fall in a Q&A on HokieSports.com, saying, “I thought Ian Seymour and Ryan Okuda really continued to get better every single week and proved that they’re going to be two really high-level impact guys on this team and in the conference.”
Fecteau went on to say in the same Q&A that Seymour had surprised him during the fall practices.
The coaching staff saw what they had hoped for in Ian Seymour’s first start of the season against Kansas State. He pitched 5.2 innings against the Wildcats, giving up just one earned run on one hit. Seymour walked two batters in his Virginia Tech debut and struck out eight.
Seymour earned his first win of his career five days later against Ball State. He lasted 6.1 innings against the Cardinals, giving up two runs on four hits. Seymour set a career high at the time with nine strikeouts.
As coach Szefc pointed out, other than the start against Purdue, Seymour has been on top of his game this season.
With a pitching repertoire comprised of a changeup, slider, and fastball, Seymour has been tearing through opposing offenses in his first taste of collegiate baseball. He ranks first among all Division I freshman in strikeouts despite being on the mound for fewer innings than the next highest freshman on the list.
Even with how well he’s performed so far, Ian Seymour knows he what he needs to work on to improve his game.
“I feel like my off-speed stuff can sometimes be inconsistent, so really just improving on that each game and really just going out there and attacking hitters is the goal for me every time,” he said after his start against NC State.
Seymour’s freshman season is certainly one of the best in Hokies' history and should be celebrated, but he is still focused on helping the team break out in the ACC, which he thinks will happen sooner rather than later.
“I definitely think we’re close,” Seymour said when asked about what it will take for the Hokies to improve upon their season. “We’re going to break through pretty soon. It’s just keep working, keep working on the process and things will work out for us.”
While the stats speak for themselves, the most telling indicator of Seymour’s impact on the program may not be on paper.
When Seymour exited the game against NC State on March 31, he was met with thunderous applause from the crowd at English Field. Former Collegiate Times sportswriter Nathan Loprete remarked that it was the first time he had ever seen a Virginia Tech pitcher receive a standing ovation.
If Ian Seymour is receiving that kind of recognition as a freshman, the Hokies should be excited for his future.
Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
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