Clare baseball head coach Skeet Colosky counted on senior pitcher Colton Punches to be the team’s ace this past season. Now, he has been named the Clare County Review’s Baseball Player of the Year.
“Colton is going to be missed next year,” Clare head coach Skeet Colosky said. “He was always a kid that wanted to take the ball. He never backed down from a challenge. When on the mound he was always a great competitor. It was nice having a player that you knew when you put him on the mound you always had a chance to win.”
Being counted on to deliver crucial innings was just how Punches, who will pitch for Delta College next spring wanted it.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Punches said. “There’s nothing better than that feeling. I work hard and our coach puts us in good positions to succeed and I have great teammates around me too.”
Punches helped lead the Pioneers to a 22-9 overall record, and a second place finish in the Jack Pine Conference with an 11-3 league mark. He had eight wins, 62 strikeouts with a 1.55 earned run average in 58 and 2/3 innings of work.
“We just put a lot of pressure on the defense,” Punches said of the team’s success. “We could lay down bunts, steal bases when we got guys on and our defense was pretty strong all year. We didn’t walk a lot of guys either, so you had to earn your way to first base.”
On top of pitching, Punches was also one of the team’s top hitters, all while playing several defensive positions.
“You definitely have to focus on both parts,” Punches said. “If you’re going to be pitching one day you still have to get hits and produce runs for your team. You have to be well-rounded, especially when you need runs in key situations, you need to be there for them.”
Despite the strong season, the Pioneers did lose to eventual quarterfinal team Pinconning, in their district semi-final game earlier this month.
“I definitely imagined going way longer than that,” Punches said. “It was disappointing to see it come to an end so fast. We put in so much for a good long run but we couldn’t do it. I was happy with the season, it was just a quick ending to it.”
His high school career may have ended suddenly, but his collegiate career is just around the corner as well.
“It’s going to be a good experience, definitely a new one,” Punches said of pitching for Delta. “To see the talent level rise, it’s going to be tough to pitch against any team, there isn’t going to be an easy out. I’m looking to make an impact right away.”