It has been, without question, an up-and-down season for the White Rock Tritons – they currently sit near the bottom of the BC Premier Baseball League standings, yet have also won six of their last 10 games.
But despite the team’s ebbs and flows, one constant has been the play of Scott Doucet, the Grade 11 pitcher coming off his best game of the season Sunday – a complete-game, 11-strikeout victory over the Parksville Royals.
And while the strikeout numbers were eye-popping – and a season-best for any Triton pitcher – the performance was not much of a surprise to White Rock head coach Russ Smithson, who at various times this season has referred to his rookie hurler as “spectacular,” “tremendous” and “just automatic.”
Of the team’s 11 victories this season, Doucet has been credited with seven of them.
“He gives us a chance to win every single time he goes out there,” Smithson said Tuesday. “The guys love him because they know all they have to do is go out there and get two or three runs, and it’s probably going to be enough to win.”
Doucet, an Earl Marriott Secondary student who came up through the White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association, has the numbers to back up such praise. His seven wins are just one back of league leaders Brad Smith (North Shore Twins) and Kyle Ross (Langley Blaze), and he’s eighth in strikeouts with 52 and among the leaders in earned-run average with a 1.62 mark.
He also leads in the league in complete games, with seven.
“That really helps me out as a coach, because it makes it easy for me to set my pitching rotation (for the week), and it helps out our bullpen,” Smithson said. “We’ve only got five pitchers, and have been calling up junior guys for spot-starts, so Scott’s been huge for us.”
For his part, Doucet credits some hard work in the off-season for his success on the mound.
Before the season, he’d worked with strength coach – and White Rock bantam AAA head coach – Jordan Broatch, and the program has added bulk to his six-foot-one inch frame.
“It’s really helped my fastball – I’ve added about five miles per-hour to it,” said Doucet. “I can hit the mid-eighties now, and last year I was at about 77 or so.”
In addition to his heater, Doucet has a curveball and a cutter he can throw for strikes, which keeps hitters off-balance.
“I think it’s important to be able to throw all your pitches in any count, so maybe where a batter might be expecting a fastball, you can give him something else,” he said.
Smithson also credited Tritons’ pitching coach Brandon Gillis with helping Doucet hone his craft.
Doucet, who pitched last season for the U16 Junior Tritons, admits to having some nerves earlier in the year, but he’s gained more confidence as the season went along.
In fact, Smithson can pinpoint what he thinks was the turning point – a complete-game performance in the team’s last game of an Arizona exhibition tour in early-spring.
“He’d had a couple so-so starts before that, but that game he was great.”
His confidence was further boosted earlier this month, when White Rock beat the Langley Blaze 2-1, handing the first-place club just their sixth loss of the season.
In that game, Doucet earned the win, pitching one inning of relief. Making the victory sweeter – for the whole team, not just the Grade 11 pitcher – was the fact that the Blaze roster is full of ex-Tritons.
“It wasn’t easy seeing those guys leave, so it was pretty nice to get that win,” Doucet said.
Doucet and his fellow pitchers have a busy stretch of the PBL schedule coming up. The team plays Saturday against the Whalley Chiefs, twice Sunday against the Victoria Eagles, and next week has five games in a four-day span beginning Wednesday.