Shawn Carlson loved the thought of finally being a starting pitcher again, a role he starred in at Andover High five or so years earlier.
After having “Tommy John” surgery while a freshman at junior college powerhouse San Jacinto College in Houston, he stayed for two more years to pitch out of the bullpen, before transferring to Fisher College in Boston to play for Scott Dulin this past year.
Dulin wanted Carlson to be a starter, too.
“I was really nervous at first,” Carlson said. “It’s a lot different as a starter, you know for four or five days, which I why I like it. But it’s different. As a reliever you pitch one inning, maybe two. It took some time adjusting to start again.”
Well, not that long. After coming in as a reliever in his first game and taking the loss in a 1-0 game, he started the last two games, allowing three earned runs in a 4-2 loss and then, last week, pitching seven shutout innings (he allowed five hits, struck out six and walked three batters) in a 1-0 win over Houston-Victoria in Houston.
It capped a remarkable four-game sweep and sent Fisher home with its best southern trip (11-7) in program history.
“Shawn has proven to be a huge addition to this pitching staff and the team,” Dulin said. “Don’t let his quiet and unassuming nature fool you. When he steps on the mound, he is a fierce competitor who is driven to do well and win games.
“He has made a good transition to the starter role. I think he has learned a lot from being a reliever.
“As a reliever, he had to come in and attack hitters right away and now he takes that same plan into the starting role. He’s a very coachable player with all kinds of upside.”
Carlson said working with Dulin this early season has opened his eyes.
“Coach has been incredible in giving me confidence that I can succeed,” said Carlson, who now resides in Lawrence. “I feel like a different pitcher now.”