Hooks’ dominance key to Brandon’s successful season

The Bulldogs are 20-5 this season, and junior pitcher Walker Hooks is 9-2 with a 1.12 ERA
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Walker Hooks pitched six innings of one-run ball Tuesday against Oak Grove to record his ninth win and eighth complete game in ten starts as the Brandon baseball team completed its 9-0 region schedule.

In his junior year, the Ole Miss-commit has been excellent, having allowed just ten earned runs in 62.2 innings pitched, good for a 1.12 ERA. This season, Hooks has more strikeouts and fewer walks than he’s had either of the last two seasons.

“The biggest difference between Walker this year and last year is his off-speed pitches have come a long way,” said Bulldog pitching coach Todd McInnis. “He gives us a chance to win every game and it’s all we can ask for him.”

Earlier this season, Hooks was mentioned as one of the best left-handed pitchers in high school baseball across the country.

McInnis said Hooks’ control has improved this season, and when he misses a pitch, it doesn’t miss by much.

“I’ve always thrown pretty hard,” Hooks said. “Since then, I’ve just tried to keep my command and throw strikes. Once I started doing that, I did pretty good.”

Hooks has four pitches he can throw efficiently: a fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball. The key to his success this year has been the efficiency he can throw his off-speed pitches with.

“When you face a good lineup, you can’t just sit up there with a fastball,” McInnis said. “I don’t care if it’s 86 to 92 as a left hander, a good lineup will take care of a good fastball. His off speed has come a long way, that’s what makes him go deep in the games.”

“It just keeps the hitters off balance when they don’t know what’s coming. It’s hard to hit,” Hooks said.

Knowing every three or four games, the Bulldogs have a dependable starter on the mound who may eliminate the need for arms out of the bullpen energizes the rest of the team.

“The guys feed off it. They know Walker is going to go deep in the games, so they feed off that energy too,” McInnis said. “I think our guys play really well behind him because they’re confident, but him going deep in the games has been one of the biggest bright spots for us this year.”

The Bulldogs’ offense takes the pressure off Hooks, they average 6.8 runs per game, allowing Hooks to focus on pitching and not worry about his team scoring runs.

“When we get a lead, it’s easier to pitch,” he said. “I’ve never had the problem where we’re behind. It’s just easier to pitch.”

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