DELL RAPIDS, S.D. (KELO) — From a young age, Dell Rapids’ Austin Henry knew he wanted to be a pitcher.
“I just threw harder than everyone else, so it was always fun to just blow a fastball by someone, instead of just sitting in the field all day and getting three balls hit to you, it was more action I guess,” Dell Rapids junior Austin Henry said. “My dad taught me how to pitch when I was younger too, so that was a big part of it.”
Now, the right-handed pitcher is known as one of the top arms in South Dakota.
“I just try to make every at bat, look like it’s a good hitter up there, even if sometimes it’s not. That way every hitter gets my best performance,” Henry said. “I just try to blow fastballs by them and send them to the dugout as fast as possible.”
“He’s really determined and an extremely hard worker and he just loves playing baseball, he loves the game,” Dell Rapids head coach Danny Miller said. “Every time he has thrown this year, he has just gotten better and that’s just the type of competitor that he is. He likes to compete.”
Henry’s determination isn’t a new attribute as he has been working hard since he was a freshman.
“In a lot of ways, he’s kind of the same guy, you know, when he was a freshman, he didn’t throw as hard, but going into the postseason, he had a 0.00 ERA (earned run average),” Miller said. “He just was, always then a kid that competed and he’s the same guy. Now he’s a little smarter, throws a little harder, but still that drive and competitiveness is still there.”
Henry has committed his baseball talents to Wichita State, a decision he made as a sophomore.
“I went down there, it was like last January. I went down there for a prospect camp thing and I remember getting there and seeing the field and thinking this is unreal,” Henry said. “I’ve heard about Wichita, but I didn’t know any of the history and why they were so good. Looking at there facilities and their field and like the whole community backing their baseball program was something that I really wanted to be a part of.”
Wichita State’s pitching coach, Mike Pelfrey, is a former MLB pitcher and another contributing factor to Henry’s commitment.
“I mean, I knew who he was, but I get in there and here’s this 6’7 guy. He’s just giant and he’s talking to me and it was almost like he was talking to me more than anybody else there. I thought this is kind of cool,” Henry said. “That night he called me and offered me. I talk to him on the phone probably once a week and he texts me probably five days a week and we’re constantly communicating and it’s been that way ever since I’ve committed, so that’s been great.”
Henry has been a shutdown pitcher in 2021 as he has thrown more than eleven innings and has only allowed one earned run, while striking out 31 of a possible 34 hitters.
Despite that success, the junior still has a bigger goal in mind for this season.
Well, for sure get a ring this year. That’s my goal, that’s every single kid on my team’s goal as well. It’s the coaches goal, so if we all have that same general goal in mind, we have a good team this year, so I don’t think that’s far fetched at all,” Henry said.
Henry and the Quarriers will play in one of the next week’s KELOLAND.com Games of the Week.
Dell Rapids will meet Sioux Falls Christian on Monday, May 3 at 5:30.