For most college baseball freshmen, the season is fraught with growing pains and results far shy of their high school success.
Tyler Arthur? No so much.
The former Boyd County and Lexington Catholic standout dazzled for Georgetown College in 2012, playing a major role in the Tigers’ drive to their first Mid-South Conference Tournament championship and a top 15 NAIA ranking.
Arthur stacked one fine pitching performance on top of another. He progressed from back-of-the-rotation starter to No. 3 weekend pitcher, to the No. 1 role.
The righthander won his first 10 decisions, including a victory over rival Campbellsville in the conference tournament.
“When we recruited Tyler, we knew he would be a good player,” said Georgetown head coach Micah Baumfeld, who like Arthur was in his first season with the team. “We didn’t realize how quick it would come.”
Arthur, who posted a 1.68 earned run average, made such an impact that he received the MSC’s Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards. Then came second-team NAIA All-American honors.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Arthur said last week, reflecting of the whirlwind start to his college career.
Now, with the start of a new season now just one day away, the righthander’s focus is fixed on making his sophomore year special as well.
Georgetown, ranked 20th in the NAIA preseason poll, opens Friday with a doubleheader against No. 7 Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach, Fla. Arthur will pitch the first game.
“It’s very exciting,” Arthur said. “This is the first time Georgetown has been ranked in the preseason. To be given the ball on opening day, it means a lot.”
He earned it. In November, Arthur was named to the All-American first team along with Georgetown closer Chad Richie.
“It gave me even more motivation this offseason,” said Arthur, who played last summer in the highly respected North Woods college league in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada before heading back to Georgetown. “As grueling and monotonous as fall baseball can be, it left me with more incentive to work hard every day.”
Baumfeld has noticed.
“I don’t see Tyler letting off the gas this year,” the coach said. “He has worked just as hard. I remember last fall he got hit a little, but never got flustered. That’s kind of how he pitches.”
Arthur had his way once the season started. He struck out 76 batters — one short of the Tigers’ record — in 91 innings while holding opponents to a .207 batting average. He allowed only one home run and led the conference in ERA.
“Everybody knew out of high school that Tyler had a lot of talent,” Baumfeld said. “He started out as a weekday pitcher and it grew from there. Campbellsville has been the No. 1 team in the conference and he beat them twice. We kind of ran with Tyler, and he kind of took us through the season.”
Georgetown went 15-0 to start the season. The Tigers dropped the first two games of their conference series with Campbellsville before Arthur picked up the victory in game three.
“It was a big stepping stone as far as my confidence,” he said.
Arthur’s only loss came at the NAIA regionals in Kingsport, Tenn., despite his solid outing against 22nd-ranked Indiana Tech. Georgetown finished at 45-11, setting a school record for wins.
“It was special season for the team and for me, he said. “There’s a huge learning curve from high school to any level of college baseball. The most important thing is learning from the guys that have been there. I know the seniors last year did a good job of bringing me along, as far as how to approach each situation.”
Arthur also credits his high school background for preparing him. A Lexington native, he moved to Ashland in middle school and lived with grandfather Sam Carr. Arthur went on to play his freshman and sophomore baseball seasons at Boyd County under the direction of coach Brandon Ramsey, a former Marshall University pitcher.
“I definitely learned a lot from coach Ramsey,” Arthur said. “He has a great mindset when it comes to pitching. He’s unbelievable helping develop young athletes, just a great coach.”
Arthur moved back to Lexington and finished out his high school career at Lexington Catholic. Last year, Carr made several trips to watch his grandson pitch. Tyler’s local relatives also include grandparents Jackie and Ken Arthur, along with aunt Lois Arthur.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.