Runnels pitcher honing skills for senior year
“I’ve always thrown hard. I’ve gained more command of my pitches. Coach Johnson believes in me, and has taught me the mentality it takes to be successful on the mound.” alden cartwright, Runnels pitcher
Alden Cartwright and Runnels have big goals for the 2013 baseball season.
There are many ways to prepare for such a challenge, but for Cartwright the answer has been relatively simple — have a productive summer.
Cartwright, a senior-to-be, has spent the summer playing for Marucci Elite in various national tournaments. He’s currently in Phoenix competing in the Perfect Games World Series for the top 16 national teams age 17-and-under.
Cartwright, an LSU baseball commitment, is playing on the Marucci squad with two fellow Tigers commitments Jared Poche of Lutcher and Justin Williams of Terrebonne.
“I encourage my players to play travel ball because they get so much out of it,” Runnels coach Tookie Johnson said. “Playing with Marucci has forced Alden to become more of a pitcher instead of a thrower. He had a breakout year as a junior and was almost untouchable most of the season.
“I think Alden is one of the best high school pitchers in the city and one of the better pitchers in the state. We’ve had some good players at Runnels, and he’s our first to commit to LSU.”
As a seventh-grader, Cartwright was a reserve on the top-seeded Runnels team that won the 2008 Class B title. He got a chance to play with older brother, Paul Cartwright, who was a senior that season.
Alden Cartwright (6-foot, 175 pounds) and fellow senior Josh Morris have been starters since eighth grade. Other seniors for the Raiders are Madison Davis and Shawn Riche’.
Runnels was 18-14 last season and finished second in a competitive District 7-2A. Runnels won its first two playoff games by a combined 11-0 margin before falling 8-1 to top-seeded Evangel in the quarterfinals.
“As a team, I think we have a good shot at making a run at state,” Cartwright said. “Josh Morris and I are the veterans, and we have a lot of young talent coming up. Our catcher, Bobby Johnson, is the hardest worker on the team and his effort is contagious.”
Cartwright said he began to really improve after attending Ron Wolforth’s Texas Baseball Ranch a few summers ago.
“They taught me how to be an athletic pitcher,” he said. “That helps smaller guys like me. I also began working on throwing long balls and that helped my strength.”
It all came together in his junior season. The right-hander finished 7-3 with a 1.78 ERA. He was selected the district’s Most Valuable Player, earned Class 2A all-state honors and also received All-Metro honors. When not pitching, Cartwright plays second base for the Raiders.
“I’ve always thrown hard,” said Cartwright, whose fastball has been clocked at 90 mph. “I’ve gained more command of my pitches. Coach Johnson believes in me, and has taught me the mentality it takes to be successful on the mound.”
The mental part of the game provides only a partial picture of what Cartwright can do on the mound.
Though his University High team never had to face Cartwright last season, UHS coach Burke Broussard saw the right-hander pitcher and put together a lengthy scouting report.
“Your elite pitchers all generally throw pretty hard,” Broussard said. “What sets him (Cartwright) apart is the command he has with all his pitches.
“It’s all about location. When you can throw 87 or 88 miles per hour like Alden does and then can throw a curveball that just drops off the table and a changeup, that’s special.
“Those pitches are tough for the average high school hitter to handle. And on top of that, he’s a good hitter.”
Runnels’ Johnson noted improvement Cartwright has shown and the expectations for 2013.
“Alden’s changeup has gotten better,” Johnson said. “His fastball and curveball have always been good. He does a good job with his mechanics. If he can duplicate what he did this past year, we think we’ll have a good team. We do have high expectations.”