Prep Baseball

Player of the Year: Wellman's miniscule ERA is one of best in state history

Quincy Notre Dame senior right-hander Nick Wellman went 8-0 with a 0.171 earned run average, which is one of the 10 best single-season ERA in Illinois High School Association history. The 2018 Herald-Whig Player of the Year led the Raiders to a 29-3 record. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 10, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Jun. 10, 2018 12:19 am

QUINCY

Nick Schwartz understands how mind-bogglingly low Quincy Notre Dame right-hander Nick Wellman's earned run average was.

"You sit back and you have to think, ‘Really?' just for a second," Schwartz said.

And he knows better than anyone just how legitimate the numbers are.

He caught nearly every inning Wellman threw this spring.

"You think about the season he put together and it's almost like you're not shocked," said Schwartz, the Raiders' junior catcher. "He had a heck of a year."

It was one for the record books.

Wellman allowed only one earned run over 41 innings, which led to a 0.171 ERA. It ranks as the 10th best single-season ERA in Illinois High School Association history and helped earn him the 2018 Herald-Whig Player of the Year honor.

"It's something that is definitely impressive," QND coach Ryan Oden said. "That proves pitching to contact and getting ahead makes good things happen. Nick's season was a product of that this year."

Moreso, it was a product of his maturity and growth as a pitcher.

During the Raiders' run to the Class 2A super-sectional a year ago, Wellman was solid. He went 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA over 45 innings. He had a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and gave QND a chance to win every time he pitched.

But he wasn't dominant.

This spring, he was in complete control.

"His mentality and his attitude on the mound was the difference," Schwartz said. "He was so confident in himself. There was never a time I looked at him and thought he's scared or down on himself. Every single pitch. he was like, ‘This is my pitch. The batter has to adjust to what I'm going to do.'"

What he did better than anyone else was locate his pitches and throw multiple pitches for strikes.

"The hitter never knew what was coming," Wellman said.

Even if they did, they had a hard time hitting it.

Wellman went 8-0, struck out 53 and walked 18 -- improving in both categories over his junior season -- and opponents hit just .143 against him. He threw first-pitch strikes to 124 of the 172 batters he faced (72.1 percent) and hit just four batters.

He did that without a change-up he could trust.

"I kept leaving it up," Wellman said. "So I wasn't throwing it in a game. If I leave it up, it's getting hit a mile."

He had full confidence in his other pitches. So did his coaches and catcher.

"With a lot of batters, we work away," Schwartz said, "With Nick, I was 100 percent confident in putting fastball inside and him hitting my glove every single time. He was extremely effective with his location.

"He made my life so easy. He located everything to a T. He struggled with his offspeed stuff here and there, but for the overwhelming majority of the season, he was spot-on with his location."

It's a necessity if you want to pitch for an Oden-coached team.

"That's something they've been preaching my whole time at QND," Wellman said.

And it's something he's improved on every season.

"When he first came in, his body was moving a lot when he threw," Oden said. "We tell our pitchers when they try to locate to stay in a good line and stay in a good direction toward the plate. I think he really started buying into it the last couple of years."

Spotting his pitches and developing a consistent change-up will help him pitch at the next level.

Wellman is headed to Quincy University, where he understands he will have to improve his mechanics and increase his velocity to have a chance to join one of the best young staffs in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

"I'm a developmental guy," Wellman said.

He can't think of a better place to develop.

"That's where I wanted to go since I was a freshman," Wellman said. "When you look at colleges, you want the chance to play for a national championship. That's a program you know will do that."

Although he had a solid senior season at the plate -- he hit .374 with 28 RBIs and a team-leading 11 doubles -- he wants his future to be on the mound.

It's where he's always wanted it to be.

"I like trying to beat everybody else every single pitch," Wellman said.

The numbers tell you he's been successful at that.

 

 

SINGLE-SEASON LEADERS

Here are the top 10 single-season earned run averages in Illinois High School Association history:

ERA, Player, School, Year

0.00, George Dugan, Centralia, 1961

0.00, Marlin Donley, Cullom Tri-Point, 1973

0.00, Dan Brauer, Wheaton Warrenville South, 2001

0.06, Brian DuBois, Braidwood Reed-Custer, 1985

0.10, Gabe Schimpf, Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher, 2016

0.11, Scott Goselin, Bradley-Bourbonnais, 1984

0.13, Tom Evans, Chicago Brother Rice, 1968

0.135, Blake Begner, Peoria Heights, 2017

0.17, Taylor Bruninga, Illini Bluffs, 2017

0.171, Nick Wellman, Quincy Notre Dame, 2018

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