EMERSON, Ga. - Coming off a tough loss on Friday, the South Charlotte Panthers 2016’s Evan Odum pitched a shutout leading his team to a 7-0 victory on Saturday against Indiana Nitro 16u at the WWBA 16u National Championship. The 6-foot-2, 175 pound right-hander managed to give up only two hits in seven innings while reaching 88 mph on his fastball and striking out five.
“It was a tough loss yesterday [but] it felt good today,” said Odum. “You have on and off games and today was one of those on ones. [Nitro] was a solid team, and was mainly a pitcher’s duel.”
Fortunately for Odum, he had help from his teammates at the plate. Kobe Phillips and Ike Freeman were both 2-for-2 on the day. Phillips had a clutch hit in the fifth inning with a 3 and 2 count, bases loaded, and 2 out at-bat. He racked in two doubles with five RBI throughout the game.
“He really stepped up today,” explained head coach Don Hutchins about Phillips’ batting. “He got his chance to come in and pinch hit, and hit a big double to put us up and then another double to help us score near the end. He had a great game for us.”
Although his team was hot at the plate in the last two innings, without Odum’s shutout, it could have been a different game.
Hutchins said he has been taking his team to Perfect Game events for as long as his program has been around; however, this is only Odum’s second year with Perfect Game. He is ranked No. 53 on Perfect Game’s high school class of 2016 national rankings. He said one of his future goals is to make it into the top 10.
“I’ll keep striving to get better than that [and] work harder to get up there to the top,” explained Odum. “[I will] keep striving harder, get bigger, get stronger, get mid 90’s if possible, and just have fun.”
Odum comes from a small town in North Carolina and was recommended to the Panthers by his high school baseball coach.
“His coach said he needed to get out of Lumberton and that he needed to be seen,” explained Hutchins. “He’s obviously got some skills and met all of our other criteria [so] he came on board with us.”
Fortunately for Odum, this landed him some interest from a couple ACC teams and a verbal commit to the University of North Carolina where he will play ball when he graduates in 2016.
“I’ve always been a UNC fan and when I first visited there and met the team and coaches it just felt like home. It felt comfortable,” said Odum.
Hutchins’ goal with this program is to make sure his players are ready to become student athletes in college, and said Odum is being prepared, along with his four other teammates who have also committed to UNC.
“We try to get them ready for college, whether it’s nutritionally, weight rooms, as well as the baseball field. We want to make sure when they step on campus they are ready to play,” said Hutchins.
Hutchins has yet to win a championship in the Perfect Game tournaments, and is determined to get one.
“We got beat coming out of the chute,” he explained. “Our goal now is to win every game. We’re gonna play every game like it’s already a playoff game.”
Hutchins has confidence in every player on his team, and is “aggressive about using everybody.”
“I don’t do that as a little league kind of a thing,” he explained. “I do it because every one of these guys [has] a roll and we get to the point in the game where we can use that roll.”