MERRILLVILLE | Jimmy Skiff was called to duty when his comrade in (pitching) arms was laid up with an injury.
Skiff didn't blink.
He was already considered among the best on the staff, but the Andrean senior took his opportunity to prove it. When Matt DeSomer was lost to arm soreness midseason, Skiff turned from the 1B pitcher into 1A.
His 10-0 record includes wins in the regular season against some of the top teams on Andrean's schedule: Penn, Hobart, Marist, Brother Rice and Joliet Catholic.
Skiff shakes off the pressure.
"I feel like Coach (Dave Pishkur) trusts me in games like that," Skiff said. "He put me in a couple last year and I felt like I did really well. He trusts me and I trust him to have faith in me. So whenever I get the ball, I’m going to go out there and look to do what I can."
With DeSomer back from his injury, Pishkur said he could throw either one in today's Class 3A Plymouth Semistate game against Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger. But don't count out Skiff, who has been clutch under fire this season.
"He’s had a really good year, and the thing about his really good year is that I don’t know that he’s had an easy start," Pishkur said. "We have two No. 1s. We have a 1 and a 1A and that’s Matt and Jimmy. When Matt went down and couldn’t throw, everyone had to step up. Jimmy had to take on more of the responsibility, and that’s when Danny Gomez surfaced and that’s when Frank Podkul surfaced and so on and so forth. So everybody has to come up when you lose somebody, but Jimmy had the brunt of it where he had the tough workload."
Skiff's record puts him in the top five in Andrean pitchers for a single-season best. His most recent wins have come in the regional title game against Griffith and in the sectional opener against Hanover Central.
"Jimmy is able probably to throw any three of his pitches for strikes in any count," Pishkur said. "So if it’s 1-0 and people are looking for fastball, Jimmy can throw a changeup. If they’re looking for whatever, Jimmy can throw whatever. He’s a guy when his changeup is on, that’s going to be his best pitch that day. Against Griffith, his fastball was his best pitch. Against Hanover Central, his breaking pitch was his best pitch. It’s nice to have a guy who has three great pitches, and they’re not always all on, but when one is, you can rely on that."
Skiff has already committed to play next season at Purdue Calumet, where he plans to major in electrical engineering.
Before arriving, he's one of five captains on the Andrean team, not an easy job to earn. Pishkur said that all of the captain hopefuls were asked to turn in an essay explaining what would make each a good captain. Skiff's essay was the first turned in.
"He's like Derek Jeter; he's not the guy you ever have to worry is going to get into any trouble," Pishkur said.
Given the chance, Skiff is happy to show off his talents under whatever pressure comes.
"I feel like I do better under pressure," Skiff said. "It’s something that clicks in me and says I have to get this done. I’ve been put into big situations since playing 13-year-old ball and up to playing with Dave Griffin’s travel teams. I’m just used to it, so I can just use that experience in big games."