You wouldn’t know it from his win-loss record, but right-handed pitcher Caleb Martinez had an impressive 2018. In 10 appearances for Niwot, the right-hander had a total ERA of just 2.79 with 51 strikeouts, the fourth highest total in the Northern League. He really hit his stride late in the season, with back-to-back complete games for the Cougars in the last week of April, including a 4-2 win over Northern League foe Thompson Valley.
“His mechanics have been solid all season,” Niwot pitching coach Mike Newton said. “He’s getting back to what he does well, which is hitting his spots, mixing his pitches, and keeping hitters off-balance. When Caleb keeps hitters off-balance, he really keeps his pitch count down and helps us stay in games.”
Most of the senior’s success, however, came during and after the team’s Spring Break trip to Arizona. After struggling with inconsistency early on, Martinez said a “change in mindset” helped him finish strong.
“I think I was a little more confident than I should have been,” he admitted. “Last year, I was a junior, and I had other people to look up to. This year, I’m one of the older people on the team, so it’s a change in how other people look at you, and how your actions matter a lot more. As a senior, what you do carries a lot of weight.”
Newton echoed his ace’s sentiments about the early season adversity, but said Martinez has come to embrace his leadership role.
“His perseverance and work ethic got him through a rough time at the beginning of the year and really settled him down towards the end of the year,” he said. “That’s just who Caleb is.”
Martinez’s passion for baseball began at age three and has grown steadily ever since. He made the transition to full-time pitcher after a little league coach noticed he could throw mostly strikes. He spent his freshman and sophomore years with Silver Creek, then transferred to Niwot as a junior, both for the baseball program and the academics.
In the classroom, Martinez enjoys his AP classes, and has especially fond memories of a trip to the Boulder County jail with Mr. Duffy’s U.S. history class. Martinez will be attending the University of Sioux Falls next year, where he plans to play baseball and study business administration.
“Their pitching philosophy is something I’ve always subscribed to,” he said. “Their program will definitely have a lot of room for me to grow, and I definitely think I have a future there. It’s also a great academic school, which my mom likes.”
Once his baseball career is over, he hopes to pursue a career in sports analytics or management.
“The data-analytical part of baseball, the statistics, really interests me,” he said. “I’m going to try to stay in this game as long as I can, and something like that would keep me in there if my body fails me.”
Though it wasn’t a great season for Niwot, Martinez said he has mostly positive memories of the final year of his high school career.
“I’ve obviously made some mistakes,” he said. “But it’s been a really fun season, and just getting to know all these guys and being a part of this team has been awesome, even though the record doesn’t show it. I think the effort is there, and there’s definitely a bright future for this program.”