Peters looks to finish senior season strong


AU Athletics

AU senior pitcher Devin Peters.

Nate Powalie and Justin Davis

It is a chilly March 23 at Donges Field, and a senior right-hander takes the mound wearing a purple jersey with white pants.

On a chilly but sunny 41-degree day, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball officially began for the Ashland Eagles against the Rangers from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

This game marked the first of a doubleheader and taking the mound for the Eagles was senior right-hander, Devin Peters.

Since joining the Eagles’ staff in the 2017-18 school year, Peters has started 21 of the 23 games he has appeared in, obtaining a career a record of 13-5 with 6 complete games.

In his first two starts during the month of April, Peters gave up five earned runs in thirteen innings, lowering his current earned run average (ERA) to 2.91.

“He’s a phenomenal pitcher, he is unreal,” sophomore catcher Logan Stoldt said of Peters. “He spots up no matter what he throws, low-90’s, mid-90’s and he just gets hitters out constantly.”

For Stoldt, it is all about that pitcher-catcher relationship that he has been able to form with Peters.

“Just from me working with him constantly I know what pitches he wants to go to and he likes to work quick so I try to work quick with him so we get hitters off balance constantly,” Stoldt said.

Over his junior season in 2018, Peters averaged 9.84 strikeouts per nine innings, finishing with 98 strikeouts over the course of 89.2 innings.

Peters transferred from Kankakee Community College in Illinois to AU before the 2017-2018 school year and hails from his hometown of Churubusco, Ind.

“He transferred over from a junior college,” AU assistant coach Aaron Hilt said. “He knows his role, we recruited him to be a number one, within this year.”

Hilt said that while Peters did win a national championship in junior college, the transition into Division II baseball was still hard for him.

“He won a national championship in junior college, and he thought, there’s still a transition period going on from junior college to NCAA Division II,” Hilt said. “I thought he had a little bit of an adjustment just from going through what we went through last year and seeing hitters and taking that step higher.”

Hilt also said that when someone makes that move up, they have to adapt to the changes in the pressure situations.

“He made that step higher and he developed in maturity,” Hilt said. “He really adjusted to that, and we worked on stuff with his arsenal of pitches to help improve upon it. He got better in the weight room, and people critiqued about his size and strength, but he worked on that over the offseason.”

To go along with throwing right-handed, Peters bats right-handed, but he has yet to record any plate appearances in his college career.

However, Peters has been under high expectations and pressure from his coaching staff.

“He’s been doing his job,” AU assistant coach Aaron Hilt said. “I’ve been pretty hard on him this year, and we keep pushing him, but it’s still not good enough.”

This year, Peters has taken the role of the main ace in the Ashland rotation.

“We set the bar high for him this year,” Hilt said. “It’s kind of tough being a number one, but he is living up to what is expected of him.”

Peters also comes into every game he starts with a hard-nosed mentality.

“Great team guy, he’s a bulldog. When he gets the ball, you feel like we have a fighting chance to win no matter who we’re playing,” Hilt said.

Hilt also said that Devin knows when deadlines come up and are ready to meet them.

“He gets things done in a timely matter,” he said. “He’s just a great guy, we have a lot of trust in each other, getting that athlete-coach relationship, it’s just something special.”

Peters led the staff last year in innings pitched with 89 and 2/3, strikeouts with 98, complete games with four,  and also had the second-lowest earned run average, or ERA for short, on the starting pitching staff at 4.32.

AU Athletics

At this point in the regular season with 18 games left to play, Peters owns the third-lowest ERA out of any Ashland starting pitcher at 2.91. He also leads the squad with 46 and ⅓ innings pitched, 62 strikeouts and is in a tie with junior pitcher Chance Hitchcock for most complete games pitched with two.

Peters is one of seven seniors who will graduate at the end of the school year, but that does not mean that his baseball career will be over at AU.

The GLIAC tournament this year will be held May 9-12 at Wuerfel Park in Traverse City, Michigan.

This year’s team holds a current record of 27 wins and four losses and is a game and a half ahead of the Purdue Northwest Pride for first place in GLIAC standings. The last time Ashland won the GLIAC baseball championship was when they split with Grand Valley State, while the Eagles’ last tournament championship win was back in 2013.

Ashland is currently in the midst of a nine-game road trip, which started off with taking three out of four games at Saginaw Valley State (the one loss snapped a 17-game winning streak on Sunday).

“This last series we played he was like low-90’s all game and he was in the seventh inning and we were up 3-1 and we knew it was going to be a tight game,” Stoldt said. “He spots one at the belt at 94 in the seventh inning after throwing close to 80-85 pitches and hitting 94 at that point in time is just incredible.”

Most recently, the Eagles defeated Walsh on Tuesday (April 9) afternoon by a final score of 12-7, and the Eagles will conclude the road trip with a four-game series this Friday through Sunday in Detroit, Mich. against Wayne State.

Hilt also mentioned that Devin was the focal point during the team’s recent 17-game win streak.

“He really helped to set the tone,” Hilt said. “He’s really a true team leader and without him, we may not have had that run of success.”

But with the success obtained comes higher expectations down the road, as Hilt said.

“I sat Devin down before the game,” Hilt said. “I’m setting the bar high with him, just focused on winning. That’s kind of my expectations.”

Peter’s main goal is to keep on winning and keep his success up to what carried him through junior college.

He also serves as a mentor to younger pitchers on the staff.

“He leads by example,” Hilt said. “He’s just a guy that younger pitchers can look at and see him throw and learn from.”