Baseball: Josh Laisure delivering on mound for Olentangy Orange Pioneers

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Josh Laisure's pitching helped Orange win 11 of its first 12 games. The senior, a Wright State commit, was 4-0 with 37 strikeouts in 22 innings. He also was batting .455 with 11 RBI.

Josh Laisure has made pitching look easy this season.

Take what the senior right-hander for the Olentangy Orange baseball team accomplished April 16, striking out 14 batters and tossing a one-hitter as the Pioneers defeated Dublin Coffman 7-0 in an OCC-Central Division game at Chillicothe’s V.A. Memorial Stadium.

That type of performance has not been out of the ordinary for Laisure, who was 4-0 with 37 strikeouts in 22 innings through 12 games. He helped propel Orange to records of 11-1 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Upper Arlington on April 23.

Coach Tom Marker hasn’t been surprised by Laisure’s excellence.

“Josh is a competitor, and he’s a three-pitch-mix guy,” Marker said. “Everyone says his (velocity) is outstanding, but his off-speed stuff is plus-plus this year.

“As a hitter, you can gear up for his fastball, but his slider and changeup are incredible as well. Our guys always say when they hit live against him in our facility, ‘Coach, that changeup is really good,’ and it is. His secondary stuff is just as impressive.”

Laisure has an impressive fastball, which helped earn him a scholarship to Wright State.

“Josh touched 94 (mph) at Chillicothe against Coffman, and he touched 95 in our indoor facility,” Marker said. “I think he sits around 91 to 93. He was hitting 93 in the last inning against (Cuyahoga Falls) Walsh Jesuit (in a 2-0 win April 10).”

Laisure had eight strikeouts in a two-hitter against Walsh Jesuit. He also learned the ropes of pitching as a sophomore, going 3-3 with a 4.08 ERA in 34 1/3 innings.

“I have a much more consistent delivery now,” Laisure said. “I know how my body works better than I did as a sophomore, and I feel like I throw more strikes. I just practice doing the same thing (on my delivery) over and over again.

“Mechanics are so important, and it’s so easy to get away from doing things right. If you do one thing differently — whether you have your arm to the side or have it straight — it all determines where the ball goes, so it can be very difficult.”

Laisure was the starting quarterback for the football team last fall. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder led the Pioneers in rushing with 338 yards and four touchdowns on 89 carries, and he was 85-for-132 passing for 1,070 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions. He was second-team all-state and first-team all-district in Division I as a punter (38.6 average) in addition to being first-team all-league.

“In football, I had to be the leader at quarterback and it’s the same thing over here,” he said. “I have to teach the younger guys the way we do things.

“As a sophomore I was pretty small, and I was looking up to these bigger kids and they really helped me calm down and make sure I was doing the right thing. That’s what I’m trying to do with these younger kids. Cole Cahill is a sophomore pitcher, and I want to try to teach him what (2020 graduate) Zane (Lattig) taught to me.”

Laisure also has been a threat at the plate, batting .455 with 11 RBI, 10 runs and seven stolen bases. He said his success on the mound also helps him in the batter’s box.

“I wouldn’t say I guess (as a hitter), but I have an idea of what pitch is coming in the count,” said Laisure, who also plays third base. “I think of what I would pitch in that moment and a lot of times it’s right.”

As if the success in football and baseball wasn’t enough, Laisure has a 4.08 GPA. He’s thinking about majoring in physical therapy.

“Josh is just so mature,” Marker said. “He’s a blast to be around. He makes it enjoyable to come to the park every day with his approach to school, his approach to baseball, his approach to football. … He’s an unreal kid.

“When I think of Josh, I think about his character traits as opposed to baseball. But he’s a heck of a baseball player on top of all of that.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen