When Olentangy High School product Nick Karow takes the mound for the Licking County Settlers, he does so with a unique perspective.

When Olentangy High School product Nick Karow takes the mound for the Licking County Settlers, he does so with a unique perspective.

Karow, a 2006 graduate, was recruited to play catcher at Furman University and started 15 games the following spring. His circumstances soon changed, however.

"They brought in a real good (junior college) catcher and then there were some injuries (on the pitching staff)," he said. "But that's OK because it's all pretty much worked out for the best."

A first-team all-state catcher in 2006, Karow also pitched at Olentangy and threw a complete game when the Braves eliminated Newark 1-0 in a Division I regional final during his senior season, a year in which Olentangy reached the state final before losing to Strongsville 12-7. Fast forward to this summer and he's become one of the top closers in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, and the senior also is closing in on Furman's career saves record despite the late start.

"He's been great. You just about can't ask for more out of a closer than Nick's given us," Settlers' coach Kyle Sobecki said. "He can give you an inning or two and will keep you in the game. He's able to take the ball on back-to-back days if we need that, too. He's proven to be a very dependable guy out of the bullpen."

Entering game July 24 at the Southern Ohio Copperheads, Karow had made nine appearances for the Settlers and finished every game in which he pitched. His six saves had him sharing the league lead with Southern Ohio's Jordan Langley, and his 0.90 ERA also ranked among the GLSCL's best for relievers. He allowed seven hits and only one earned run in 10 innings of work, striking out four. Opponents were batting just .189 against him.

"He's got a good fastball and a very good cutter," Sobecki said. "The big thing is, he throws strikes and doesn't beat himself."

Karow, who was one of six Settlers to earn an invitation to the GLSCL's all-star game earlier this month, made second-team all-Southern Conference at Furman as a sophomore in 2008 after going 5-0 with nine saves and a 3.71 ERA. He went 1-1 with four saves and a 3.80 ERA last spring as the Paladins finished 24-31 overall, making 18 appearances. He struck out 22 and had 10 walks.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right-hander now has 16 career saves and trails only Nick Hollstegge's school-record 21. Karow said his experience behind the plate has served him well.

"Absolutely," he said. "And it's the mental aspect mainly. Pitching and catching both have a lot to do with attitude.

"And closing has been great. I throw almost every day, and I get to be involved in a lot of games. When I was young I liked pitching because I liked being in control of the game, and baseball's the only sport where the defense takes the ball. Catchers have a lot of control, too, and I guess in that way the two are pretty similar."

Karow, who was a career .431 hitter at Olentangy with seven home runs and 29 doubles, was born in Newark and lived in Pataskala before moving to Missouri. His family returned to central Ohio when Karow was in the third grade and still resides in Lewis Center. He is an earth and environmental science major at Furman.

"Being a pitcher, I'm obviously really enjoying wooden-bat baseball," said Karow, who played for the Delaware Cows last summer and led the GLSCL with nine saves. "I was disappointed with the Cows situation (in not fielding a team this summer), but I think they'll be back.

"I'm just happy I got a chance to stay in the league with the Settlers, though. We're doing well."

•SEASON UPDATE -- The Settlers were in fourth place at 15-11 before playing Athens last Thursday, with the top six teams qualifying for the playoffs.

After completing a four-game series this weekend at the Anderson Servants, the Settlers play Wednesday at the Stark County Terriers before returning home to play the Lake Erie Monarchs on Friday at Don Edwards Park. Three regular-season games remain after that, including a doubleheader Saturday against the Monarchs.

Entering last Thursday, the Settlers were a combined 7-5 against the three teams leading them in the standings and 8-6 against the others. The Lima Locos were in first place at 21-6 followed by Grand Lake (21-9) and the Cincinnati Steam (17-10). The Settlers finished 3-1 against the Steam and 2-2 against both Lima and Grand Lake.

"In theory, the schedule should favor us because we're done playing the teams above us," Sobecki said. "But one thing that's hurt us all summer is that we tend to play to the level of our competition. We have to do better this week."

•ELSEWHERE -- Ryan Grice, who coached the Settlers during their first two seasons in 2006 and '07, has been named coach at Capital University.