There’s no other way to say it. Weatherford College pitcher Jake Lyons is dominant, plain and simple.
Well, while that fact may be plain, opposing hitters are finding it not so simple in figuring out a way to hit his pitches.
Only a freshman, Lyons has already twice been named the National Pitcher of the Week by the National Junior College Athletic Association. In fact, the honors came in back-to-back weeks for games played Feb. 13-19 and Feb. 20-26.
In winning the first award, Lyons struck out 16 of 21 batters he faced in a 9-2 victory against Blinn.
In winning the second award, Lyons broke the school record by striking out 18 batters in a 3-1 win over Midland College.
As of the writing of this article, Lyons had struck out 54 batters in 28.1 innings pitched. That was second in the nation, two behind the national leader and an average of 17.15 per contest.
Both the total number of strikeouts and the average were well ahead in the leaders of the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference, the next closest amount of strikeouts being 38.
“Surprisingly, it was something in the back of my mind,” Lyons said. “I wasn’t really focusing on trying to break a record. I just went out there and did my thing.”
Lyons has four pitches in his repertoire, fastball, curve, changeup and splitter. His favorite pitch is, of course, his fastball, which has topped out at 94 mph and is consistently 90-92.
“I’ve been told my pitching motion is deceptive and my fastball has been the most effective,” he said.
And, like most power pitchers, Lyons loves going mono-e-mano with the best hitters and striking them out.
“Going head-to-head with a player who wants to beat you and bearing down and dominating him is a great feeling,” Lyons said.
It’s pretty enjoyable for Head Coach Jeff Lightfoot as well.
“Jake has been fun to watch the last couple of weeks. He has been dominant to say the least,” Lightfoot said. “Jake has worked hard since August and it’s paying off.”
Lyons came to Weatherford College after a standout and record-setting career at Irving MacArthur. He ended his high school career with a school-record 391 strikeouts and his team won its first playoff game since 1986.
And though he’s pitching in one of the nation’s premier conferences, Lyons continues to be dominant. He’s 6-foot-5-inches tall and weighs 272 pounds, but he said his performance is as much mental as it is physical.
“I knew coming into college would be a big jump from high school, so I changed my mental approach and didn’t take average for an answer,” he said.
“Jake loves to compete and he is buying into our style of play,” Lightfoot said. “I’m looking forward to watching him carry that momentum into conference play.”
Lyons began pitching when he was 9 years old. He and others knew right away he had something special.
“It was the first year of kid-pitch and our coach pitched everyone on the team to see who could actually pitch, and I was the hardest-throwing kid in our league,” Lyons said. “Usually, any tournament we played in I was the hardest-throwing kid.”
Lyons played football in middle school and basketball through his freshman year at MacArthur. When he wasn’t pitching, he played first and third base.
Academically, Lyons is interested in the field of sports medicine.
“If baseball doesn’t work I would like to be an athletic trainer,” he said.
“My goal is to be drafted and pitch professionally, but I’m focused on going to a four-year (NCAA) D-I university, getting an education and furthering my pitching skills.”
And in the meantime?
“I’m ready to dominate with my teammates and make our way to Grand Junction (Colorado, site of the NJCAA Division I World Series),” he said.