Facing a Curveball


Iliad/Robert Houshan

Grand Slam: Junior Ryan Kroepel hits the ball with full momentum to give Poway a scoring chance.

Jonny Richardson, Sports Editor

In a rivalry match between the Poway Titans and La Costa Canyon Mavericks, junior pitcher Ryan Kroepel threw his first complete-game shutout of the season. He struck out five batters while allowing just four singles.
“I recently picked up a split finger [which] moves exactly like a changeup,” Kroepel said. “That was one of my most effective pitches.”
Senior outfielder Nick Cook led off the fifth inning with a home run, and senior catcher Austin Butler hit a two-run shot, Butler’s second longball of the season, to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.
Poway started the season winning seven of their first 10 games, but that was followed by five consecutive losses to Carlsbad, San Marcos and El Camino Real. Their 3-1 victory over the Grossmont Foothillers on April 12 ended that streak and began a stretch of three wins in four games.
Their biggest need going into the final two weeks of the season, according to manager Robert Parry, is cleaning up the miscues on the field.
“We need to improve our defense to compete in our league,” Parry said.
Butler has been the staple of the lineup with a .436 batting average and a 1.203 on base and slugging (OPS) while playing in each of the team’s first 20 games.
“My biggest improvement has been my strength. I put a lot of work in the weight room this offseason and it’s paying off,” Butler said.
Kroepel is the ace of the Titans’ pitching staff with a 6-1 record and a 1.53 earned run average in eight starts. In his four-pitch arsenal, Kroepel has a four- and two-seam fastball, curveball and a split finger.
“My favorite is my two-seam fastball because it moves a lot, and I feel most confident with it,” Kroepel said.
The team has two more home games left, playing Rancho Bernardo on May 5 and San Marcos on May 10 in key league matchups.