Future Sun Devil already shining at Mundelein
The first baseball honor Brendan Murphy remembers came from a teammate.
The Mundelein High School senior told the Lake County Gazette that he had borrowed a buddy's bat for a T-ball game -- and ended up keeping it.
“I did so good with it, he gave it to me,” Murphy said.
Although he doesn't have the bat anymore, the left-handed pitcher still has his skill and star power. He's already been named to the 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game Preseason All-American Second Team.
Topping his 2016 efforts will be a challenge, though. Murphy, who will head to Arizona State for his college career, had a 10-2 record with 110 strikeouts last year. He gave up 33 hits and 28 walks in 70 innings. He also batted .433 with 34 RBIs and 27 runs scored.
And he was a driving force behind the Mustangs getting to the state final.
In last year's regional tournament, Murphy said, his fastball came in at 92 mph. He's already got it up to 90-91 mph at the start of this season, he said.
“It's really early in the year and my arm's not in mid-season form,” he said.
Besides, Murphy's best pitch is his changeup, he said, because it goes away and down to right-handed batters and comes in on left-handers.
“I feel like I can throw that wherever I want, when I want,” he said.
Team-wise this season, Murphy thinks the Mustangs are capable of bringing home the state title.
“We've got everyone on the team wants to come every day and get something done and do the simple things right,” he said. “I think we're all in it. It's our last year -- completely our last year playing together. We've been playing together since we've been 8 years old.”
That sense of camaraderie is a big draw because players can inspire one another, he said.
“We're so close; it's just a bond that'll never be broken,” he said.
Though it will be hard to leave that kind of togetherness, Murphy feels a draw to the Sun Devils college program, partly because of its success: five NCAA titles and 22 College World Series appearances. Plus, more than 100 of its players have moved on to Major League Baseball.
But there's even more of a personal reason for going to ASU. When he was 11 years old, Murphy was in Omaha for a tournament during the College World Series and got to watch the Sun Devils practice. He met the players and checked out their equipment.
“I was amazed,” Murphy said. “And I bought a hat, and I was like, I want to play here.”