Poise on the Mound

baseballNo matter how impressive the results, Cameron Neff isn’t the type of baseball player to stick his chest out and sing his own praises.

Instead, the Saint Mary’s rising sophomore is letting his right arm do all the talking.

A pitcher for the Gaels who spent much of the early season just trying to shake the nerves that come with new surroundings, Neff made his presence known up and down the West Coast over the first two months of his collegiate career.

His run of brilliance began at Louis Guisto Field on March 8 when the right-hander from Salinas struck out 10 in a complete game win over Penn State. It kicked into high gear when he threw a four-hit shutout at No. 9–ranked Cal State Fullerton, and suddenly Neff was faced with national attention.

“At the start of the season, I came in with a bunch of nerves with pitching in college,” Neff said. “After getting more and more starts, I’m starting to settle in a little more and maturing a little more. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s getting a little easier.”

That stretch was only the beginning. Neff struck out seven and allowed only one unearned run in eight innings at the University of Portland, then threw his third of five complete games this season in a 5-2 win over BYU at home. In the midst of all that success, Neff built a streak of 32 2/3 innings in which he did not allow any earned runs, an unheard-of statistic for such a young pitcher.

“I said this at Bay Area Media Day and then he had a rough start at New Mexico State, but nothing fazes him,” Saint Mary’s head coach Eric Valenzuela said. “He’s the same guy no matter what. He’s done a phenomenal job, and he’s only getting better. That’s the thing. He’s getting better each week.”

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