Under Control

Published 5:08 am Monday, March 7, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Many pop groups are known as "one-hit wonders".
Escambia County's Chris Graham can do them one better.
Graham pitched six innings of no-hit ball for the Blue Devils (1-2) last Saturday in a 12-2 victory over the Hillcrest-Evergreen Jaguars.
"It felt good," Graham said Wednesday. "A no-hitter is a no-hitter, regardless of who you're playing. It would've been better if they hadn't scored, but it felt good to get the win. The team played well enough for me to get this."
The Blue Devils' head coach Keith Nall was both pleased and unsurprised that Graham would have such a successful game.
"Chris has such a good work ethic," Nall said. "He's always been a control pitcher as opposed to a power pitcher. The power pitchers are the ones you usually see getting no-hitters, but I'm glad Chris finally got one."
When asked if he had kept the ball, as is the custom for no-hitters, Graham said that it did not matter to him that much.
"I didn't even think about it," Graham said, surprised. "I keep all my home run balls, but a no-hitter ball should go to the team."
Graham also reflected on his numerous accomplishments as a Blue Devil.
"Obviously, this is a big one," Graham said. "One of my biggest moments was an area game we had against Greenville last year. The game went 12 innings, and I pitched the last seven in relief. I held them scoreless and we won the game.
"Playing Excel last year was a big one too," Graham continued. "I held them hitless for four innings, but then they shelled me, but it felt good to hold a team like that scoreless for a while. We also played St. Paul's two years ago; they won state that year. I pitched that game and we were one of only nine games they played all year that went seven innings."
Despite his success as a pitcher, Graham feels he is a much better first baseman for the Blue Devils.
"I work a lot harder in the off season on being a first baseman," Graham said. "I'm a pretty good high school pitcher, but I know my limits. I put a lot more work in at first base and on the stick."
Nall agreed with Graham's assessment of his skills.
"He is a better first baseman," Nall said. "If he's going to make it to the next level, and I think he is, it'll be as a first baseman," Nall said. "He puts in a lot of work, and he's probably the best first baseman we've had since I've been here. If you throw it there he's going to catch it."
Graham was also excited about the improvement of his teammates.
"We've got a lot of younger guys," Graham said. "As a senior, I rarely have to tell them anything. They work hard. We've made a lot of mistakes this year so far, but we've learned from every mistake. I know it doesn't look like much through our record, but in a few weeks I think we'll be a lot better; and in two or three years these younger guys are going to put together a pretty good team."
Nall was full of praise for his senior.
"He works hard in the off season," Nall said. "You don't have to tell him anything to do because he's such a hard worker. I wish we had more like Chris."

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