Austin Donoho is going to wear many hats, so to speak, for the Rock Falls baseball team.
Entering his third year as a varsity starter, the senior is being counted on to anchor the pitching staff. When he's not on the mound, he'll start at either one of the outfield spots, third base, shortstop or second base, depending on who is taking their turn in the pitching rotation.
"Whatever the team needs, I'm willing to do," Donoho said. "It's all about the team."
Donnie Chappell, entering his 15th season as the Rockets' manager, appreciates having a player with Donoho's versatility.
"I don't like to be the type of guy to make one pitching change and move seven guys," Chappell said. "Some years I have that and some years I don't, and this year, he's the type of guy that can do that. That's a really big luxury."
Donoho led Rock Falls in innings pitched as a junior with 50 2/3. He finished with a 3-4 record, had a 3.87 earned run average, and allowed opposing batters to compile a .244 average against him.
He has a fastball in the mid-80s, a sharp slider, and also an effective curveball and changeup.
"We've got to have a lot of guys throw some strikes this year," Donoho said. "It's not just about me or about Dustin [Huycke] or about Noah [Junis]. I think everyone's got to chip in and do their part pitching, but it goes farther than that. We've got to field good, hit good – we've got to do everything good."
Chappell considers Donoho's slider his top pitch, as not too many high school pitchers are consistently effective with it. More than that, however, it's a bulldog mentality that gets Donoho outs.
"He's such a competitor, that's why I love having him on the mound," Chappell said. "He's never going to give in no matter what the situation. He always wants the ball. Every good team we faced last year, he always wanted the ball. He doesn't shy away from anything."
Two pitchers who graduated last year, Jace Anderson (7-0) and Eddie Nelson (6-2), had better won-loss records, but Donoho had comparable stats – just not the wins to show for it.
"He grew up a lot on the mound last year," Chappell said. "We thought he'd be a three, maybe a four, but by the time it was done, he ended up pitching most of the big ones."
At the plate, Donoho is expected to bat either third or fourth, coming off a season in which he batted .354 with eight doubles, two homers and 28 runs batted in, second on the team behind slugging outfielder Steven Armoska (39 RBI), who graduated.
Donoho also led the team with 13 stolen bases, one more than fellow senior Huycke, and they are the fastest players on this year's squad.
"However we can produce runs, that's all that matters," Donoho said. "It doesn't matter who hits him in or who scores. We've just got to do it."
School: Rock Falls
FYI: 3-sport (football, basketball, basketball) athlete for the Rockets. ... Went 3-4 as a pitcher with 3.87 ERA in 2013. ... Will play football and baseball at St. Ambrose