Colonial Heights' Noah Murdock Shines On The Diamond
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Mar 10, 2014, 08:50
Contributed Photo/The Hopewell News—News Patriot
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — Noah Murdock spent the fall months lurking a few feet away from a net as opposing players tried to complete a kill to swing momentum in critical volleyball matches. As each opponent would rise above the net, Murdock readied his 6-foot-6 frame and sprang upward like a cannon, ending plenty of dreams and aspirations of other teams during the course of the season.
However, four months later Murdock is again intimating future opponents with his sheer size and athletic ability in a different manner. This time the terror doesn't occur on the hardwood. Instead, it will take place on a baseball diamond where the sophomore has showcased his talents since he can remember.
While his height would leave many to question why the Colonial Heights pitcher would choose baseball over a sport such as basketball where length can have a dominating effect, there was never any doubt in his own mind. Murdock learned to love the game of baseball from an early age and relished the opportunity to be in complete control of a certain situation.
It's why the role of pitcher has almost seemed made for the sophomore: nothing happens until the pitcher decides to throw, the pitcher is the lone player with wins and losses attached to their name, and they are in total control. America's past-time was the perfect match.
"Ever since Little League, baseball has always been the No. 1 sport," Murdock said during a practice last week. "Being lanky and tall really helped me a lot in pitching. I like being in control, so being out on the mound and getting outs is the best feeling."
But Murdock experienced an even better feeling than seeing a batter swing through a high fastball because earlier this month the sophomore verbally committed to attend the University of Virginia for baseball.
The No. 1 ranked team in the country is a team Murdock has followed since travel baseball, noting the success the Cavaliers program has had in recent years. Virginia finished last season with a 50-12 record while also advancing to Omaha — college baseball's host for the World Series — in 2009 and 2011.
And while the success the program led to a quick commitment, the proximity to his hometown also played a key role in Murdock accepting the offer so soon.
"Once I heard the offer, I just couldn't give it up," he said. "It's the No. 1 team in the country and I've wanted it for so long. To see my hard work finally pay off, it's great feeling. I know they are going to do well for me in baseball, teaching me how to better. To be with them? I wouldn't want to be with any other team."
Yet, Murdock will have to wait another two years after this current season to don the uniform. For now, he will try to anchor the Colonial Heights' rotation while also improving his all-around game in the process.
The right-hander already has quality weapons in his arsenal including a fastball which tops out at 87 mph and the usual assortment of breaking pitches which include a curveball, slider and change-up. Although to Colonials manager Gerald Carsley, he did not need to see Murdock throw one pitch to know he would be talented.
One look at his height was all it took for him to envision what the 15-year-old could become if trained the right way.
"When you see his height and you know his foot size ... so of course his physical ability is there," Carsley said of the sophomore. "And then he's just progressed and has worked really hard. He's done a lot of travel ball and he plays for the Virginia Cardinals. So he's playing against high-quality competition and I think that's really helped his game."
But while he has played against competition that may be a step ahead of anything he'll face at the high school level, it will still be a challenge to keep to not allow an off-night get to him.
Murdock's competitiveness on the mound — he's said there's nothing more exciting than winning a game for his teammates — is both a blessing and a curse. Every pitcher, no matter how talented or what level they are playing will experience ups and downs. It's how they deal with the expected failures and learn from them which makes certain players stand apart.
"He's going to have bad games and that's the thing that I've tried to get him to understand," Carsley said. "I don't expect him to be perfect just because his ceiling is high ... he's going to develop and that all that we can ask for."
Although Murdock says his experience with the Cardinals will benefit him in those types of situations and allow to not get too high or too low.
Contributed Photo/The Hopewell News—News Patriot
"I don't think I'll have too much pressure," Murdock said. "I'm so used to travel and all those good players. I'm not saying high school baseball is easy, but I'll be used to it."
And it's that experience which will help him continue to expand his own game throughout the season. Murdock says he is always worried about keeping his mechanics in check — being tall can throw them out of sync very easily — while also developing a splitter.
The constant drive to improve and not rest on previous accomplishments, especially at a young age, sets Murdock apart from others. But while he has garnered a lot of attention because of his potential, he sees the same type of ceiling for the Colonials' baseball program.
"Last year showed me potential wise that there's a lot of young players that are going to be good this year and especially next year," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the next couple of seasons."
The Colonials can say the same about Murdock as he continues to develop over his final three seasons before heading to Charlottesville for another challenge he'll look to excel past with his sheer determination.