University of Tampa pitcher Alex Canney is the first freshman to get a start on the mound for the program since the 2016-2017 season.
The 19-year-old right-hander has gotten the ball in four games this season and put up excellent numbers.
He has a 2.70 ERA through 13.1 innings, where he has also amassed 18 strikeouts while only walking three batters.
“Thankfully, I was able to show something to the coaches in the fall that they liked and something they thought was going to compete and hopefully help the team out at some point,” Canny said about earning his role, on an internet interview.
“[Now] it’s more like a business, [I have to] show up, have that competitive attitude, learn from the guys around [me] and get going.”
Spartans head coach Joe Urso says they don’t generally get a lot of top-tier high school arms that are ready to start as freshmen due to the program’s annual expectation of competing for a national championship.
“We followed Alex’s progress through high school and knew he would be a fit for us,” Urso said about getting Canney to the team. “We felt like he would be a big part of our future and [we’re] just happy that he’s getting the innings needed as a freshman to hopefully takeover [a spot] in the rotation by his sophomore year.”
Taking the opportunity to learn from some of the veterans on the team has been important for Canney as he develops and navigates his first university season.
He gives credit to every guy on the team for teaching him something throughout the year.
“I’m having so much fun here right now, because there are guys here that are 24, 25 years old … and I’m just feeding off of what they have to tell me,” he said. “I’ve definitely gotten better because of that.”
Another influence on Canney’s game has been his father, Matthew, who pitched at the University of Tampa from 1993-95.
“I don’t remember a time where I didn’t wake up with a baseball or a glove,” Alex said. “He was a huge help and a huge coach … he didn’t really push me to play but definitely wanted me to, so he was the determining factor in [me starting to play].”
As for Alex’s future in baseball, he hopes to eventually get drafted but says he will be involved with the game forever.
“I love the game of baseball. Wherever it takes me, it takes me … I’m going to work my butt off to get to [professional baseball],” he said. “Whatever happens, I just hope I can look back and say ‘I wouldn’t have it any other way’.”