LIMA — Colin Stolly has always played at full-throttle speed.
But for the last three years, the Lima Central Catholic pitcher/shortstop/second baseman has had added motivation.
Since March of his sophomore year, Stolly has had the words “Scott Huysman,” written in capital letters in black magic marker under the bill of his T-Birds’ hat. Huysman, a very good longtime family friend, passed away from cancer at the age of 46 in March of 2012.
“He (Huysman) always loved baseball,” Stolly said. “At his funeral I took my batting gloves that I was using at the time and I put them in his casket. Scott made a huge impact on my life. … I play every single game for Scott, and I play every single game for my grandfather (who passed away), but Scott really impacted me as a young man. Every time we pray before the game I keep my hat off and I say a little prayer to Scott.
“I put his name on my old hat right before the tournament my sophomore year. As a younger kid, he told me he’d do everything he could to fight the cancer. It ended up taking his life, but I feel him every single time when I go up to bat. Right before I step in the box, I say, ‘Come on Scott, help me out right here.’ And every time I go in the box I feel Scott and my grandfather are watching over me and helping me out. I don’t think I could have succeeded the way I have in high school without those two people.”
Stolly recently announced that he will play baseball at Ohio Wesleyan.
Stolly came up to the varsity late in his freshman year as a role player.
His career took off as a sophomore, when he started at shortstop for the T-Birds team that went all the way to the Division III state championship game before falling to Wheelersburg, 1-0.
“He’s been steady, he’s gotten better, he’s put up numbers, and he’s done everything,” LCC coach John Schnieders said. “The bottom line is there’s only a handful of players that you knew were going to love baseball every single day they came to the ballpark and that’s how I can best describe Colin. Every day he’s excited about playing baseball, and he’ll do whatever. And, as good a player as he is in a small school like ours, he’s still team first. He’ll do whatever it takes to help his team win, and he can care less about the individual accolades.”
Over the years, Stolly has filled numerous roles and handled each one with all-star type production.
As a sophomore on the state team, Stolly batted .456 as the leadoff hitter/shortstop.
Last year he became the No. 1 pitcher on the staff and went 7-0 with a 0.80 ERA with one save. He helped guide the T-Birds back to the regionals. In the district semifinals last year, he fired a 3-1 victory over Ottawa-Glandorf.
This season the T-Birds stand 10-13, but have been hit with injuries and poor defense at times. Second baseman Drew Jennings has had a sore right shoulder and Stolly has moved over from shortstop to second. Third baseman Ethan O’Connor has moved from third to shortstop. Brad Stolly is at third, because knee surgery last year has limited how many games he can catch.
“That’s Colin checking his ego at the door and saying I’ve been a shortstop for two years on a regional team and a state finals team, but I’m willing to play somewhere else if it makes our team better,” Schnieders said. “That’s vintage Colin.”
The T-Birds will travel to Ottawa-Glandorf to meet the Western Buckeye League champion Titans in the Division III sectional opener at noon today.
In spite of switching positions, Stolly has continued to hit. He’s batting .400 with 15 runs and 10 RBIs this year. On the mound, he’s been much better than his 1-4 record, as he owns a 2.30 ERA with two saves. He has 20 strikeouts in 24 innings.
For his career, he’s 10-7 with 1.81 ERA. He has 108 strikeouts in 107 innings. Stolly has a .405 career batting average.
Besides playing baseball and football, he also played basketball through his sophomore year. But it wasn’t until he saw the Great Lakes Collegiate League’s Lima Locos up close that his focus began to change.
“That summer (after sixth grade) was our first year hosting the Locos and we had Kenny Fellows and Anthony Toth,” Stolly said. “They lived at my house that summer and they made me realize that baseball was what I really loved to do. And I remember in seventh grade I texted Kenny and said, ‘I just want to play college baseball some day.’ ”
Stolly said he’ll probably play infield at Ohio Wesleyan, but added he’ll play anywhere. And no matter where he plays, he won’t change his approach.
“I’m really proud to say I can play for those two people (Scott and his grandfather) every single game and never leave any regrets behind,” Stolly said. “If I give everything I can, that’s all anyone can ask for.”