Sports

Pitching against the odds

The Wolves’ hopes for extending their season rest in large measure with unlikely starter Adam Douty. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
The Wolves’ hopes for extending their season rest in large measure with unlikely starter Adam Douty.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

There are no scouts holding radar guns or scribbling notes when he takes the mound.

South Kitsap High School coach Jim Fairweather admits he doubted whether right-handed pitcher Adam Douty could even help his team.

“I was really unsure coming into this year whether he had the stuff to be on varsity, especially when I thought we were going to have two guys coming back who threw in the 90s or so,” he said.

And yet, Douty, 18, will be on the mound at 10 a.m. today for the Wolves’ most important game in the last two years when they face Bothell at Kent Memorial.

“He’s got his issues ... but nothing ever seems to bother him,” Fairweather said. “He would be a great poker player. You never know what’s on his mind. I can’t tell if he’s having a good time or hating life.”

In South’s biggest game since they lost 18-0 in the state quarterfinals against Jackson on May 20, 2006, Douty will start and attempt to keep one of the state’s 16 best Class 4A teams out of sync with a two- and four-seam fastball -- neither that hits the catcher’s glove at more than about 75 mph.

As difficult as that challenge might appear, Douty isn’t daunted. In a sport that craves high-velocity pitchers, the senior had to prove his value to the coaches.

After moving from Enumclaw as a sophomore, they told him he was one of the last players to make the junior varsity squad.

“I came here and it was a big shock because there’s so many kids who are really good at baseball,” Douty said. “I was lucky to make JV.”

Fairweather agreed.

“He comes out for our team as kind of a smallish, weakish kind of a kid,” he said. “We just weren’t really sure about him.”

He repeated at that level as a junior and said he might have missed an opportunity to get called up to varsity late in the season because of poor grades.

Douty said juniors don’t feel the burden of being new to a school or the pressure of graduating, and he became lazy in the classroom because of it.

“Sometimes, kids make really stupid decisions,” he said. “I had to grow up really fast.”

Even a renewed focus on academics didn’t change his prospects coming into baseball season. He didn’t figure to be much more than a spot starter or a reliever if he made the team.

But one of South’s projected starters became academically ineligible and the other, junior Collin Monagle, didn’t pitch until late in the season because of weakness in his shoulder.

Douty easily could’ve joined them as the third starter out. On March 23, his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter, Tessa.

Before the season, teammates asked Douty if he would play this season, given his off-the-field obligations.

“It was weird at first knowing that you’re a dad and still in high school,” he said. “I had to get used to it quick.”

Douty said his girlfriend, who’s a senior at Discovery Alternative High School, takes care of their daughter during the day.

Douty lives with her family during the week to assist with childcare.

He said he enjoys being a father and it’s not as difficult as he imagined because he stays focused in the classroom and on the field, which allows him to be attentive at home.

That’s not to suggest that Douty recommends being a teen parent. If he were sought out by another student contemplating the question, he’d say that person needs to “do everything right before you have a child.”

He said that means being in a committed relationship and having a career plan for after high school.

Douty plans to attend Tacoma Community College in the fall and earn an associates degree in business and management. He eventually wants to own his own restaurant.

While eating with teammates after Saturday’s 8-1 loss against Puyallup, Douty said he was approached by a Vikings player. He told Douty that his combination of fastballs, circle changeup and curve ball were difficult to hit.

He allowed just one earned run in the Wolves’ 2-0 loss May 4 against Olympia in the championship game of the Narrows League Tournament.

“He totally frustrates people,” Fairweather said. “I remember Olympia coming out of their shoes with frustration because they could not hit him and they felt they should be ripping him all over the park.”

Fairweather said Douty, who’s 3-4 with a 4.76 ERA, doesn’t have a strong record because the Wolves haven’t scored runs for him, but there is no question about his value as a player.

“Despite all those things, and despite the distractions, he comes out to play for us and he just becomes the guy,” he said. “He’s had all the tough games.”

Douty said he’s just grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s cool that the coaches believed in me and put me in the big situations,” he said. “I’ve started almost every playoff game this year and it’s been really exciting.”

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