by Alan Hieber
Pitch placement is a top priority for pitchers in the college game. Wright State lefthander Danny Sexton has been making a mark with his fastball this season for the 9-6 Raiders.
The collegiate baseball journey for the Pataskala, Ohio, native and organizational leadership major started at Tiffin. Sexton then transferred to Sinclair and went a perfect 10-0 there as a sophomore.
Sexton’s brother Robby was also a hard-thrower for the Raiders and was drafted by the Red Sox this past summer. They have offered a critique of each other’s games growing up.
“He (Robby) could see my flaws and I could see his,” Sexton recalled. “We would attempt to correct each other as we watched each other play throughout the years.”
Robby suggested that the WSU staff consider adding Danny to the program after his strong season at Sinclair. The idea of being on the same team as his brother became appealing to Sexton and it was made a reality when he joined the Raiders as a redshirt last year.
For Sexton this is his first season in a starting role for WSU. It’s also the first season at the helm as head coach for Jeff Mercer. Sexton feels that Mercer has been a good mentor that looks out for him.
“It gives me confidence that I can go to him (Mercer) for anything,” Sexton said “He has confidence in me, which makes me feel good playing here.”
Sexton’s WSU debut on February 19 could not have been scripted any better as he garnered a victory in a 9-2 decision on the road over #10 Clemson, allowing just four hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings of work.
“That was probably the best experience of my life baseball wise,” Sexton said.
One of the more notable moments of the Clemson game was in the bottom of the sixth inning when the score was 5-1 and the Tigers were threatening with runners on second and third. With two outs Sexton threw an inside fastball for a strikeout looking and made an emphatic fist pump in celebration.
“It was a huge pitch that truly elite level competitors make and it propelled us on to win that game and ultimately the series,” Mercer said.
After the stellar outing on the mound Sexton was awarded Horizon League Pitcher of the Week. He has proven that his performance was not an aberration with his 3-0 record and 0.76 ERA that includes wins over #4 South Carolina and Pittsburgh.
Mercer feels his ace is able to fool the opposing batters with his arm slot motion and fastball accuracy.
“As a left-handed pitcher, his (Sexton’s) low 3/4 arm slot creates an angle and sink that’s very difficult on both right and left-handed hitters,” Mercer said. “He has a unique ability to get to his glove side of the plate with his fastball consistently. This opens up the full array of his pitches to be elite like few players I’ve coached.”
With each start Sexton says he is having the time of his life. Even when he was cheering from the dugout when the Raiders defeated Dayton last week in walk-off fashion, he felt it was the best moment he has ever experienced as a member of a team.
“It was electric and the energy was unbelievable,” Sexton said. “From a personal standpoint getting to throw in those atmospheres against big time teams is pretty exciting.”
On a Raider team that prides itself on its defense, Sexton has little doubt that his teammates in the field will help him keep hits and subsequent runs off the board.
“It gives me all the confidence in the world that I don’t have to try to strike everybody out,” Sexton said. “I can pitch to contact and let them do their job.”
“It makes for easy momentum as an offense. Once you’re pitching and your defense is doing its job it’s really easy for the offense to relax and get hits.”
After his eligibility runs out following next season Sexton has the desire to play professional baseball. His main focus now is on pitching for a WSU team that has won two consecutive Horizon League championships and improving his craft.
“Danny’s biggest strength is his competitiveness,” Mercer said. “He has the ability to filter out distractions when he’s pitching and focus completely on the task at hand, competing to execute his best pitch.”
Sexton has proven he can hit the right spots with his fastball and that he chose a good spot to play baseball too.
“Danny, along with several other very talented, competitive pitchers will work hard daily to ensure this team is the best it can be and bring another championship to the ‘RaiderGang,’” Mercer said.