Jack Julian did not soak up the spotlight after his perfect game Monday against Red Bank.
Instead the Hixson High School senior flamethrower spoke of suiting up as the catcher the next day with Alex Rollins on the mound in another important District 6-AA matchup. They struck out 15 batters apiece in a series sweep of the Lions.
Julian and a motivated senior class have sparked the Wildcats (13-5), who seek a fourth consecutive district championship this season.
"Jack is a workhorse," Wildcats coach Colton Green said. "Every year he has gained velocity. He not only throws hard, but he studies the game and can fill up the zone with all his pitches. He is giving his all for us, but he also is driven to improve so he can be stout next year against college hitters."
Last summer he grinded to build more steam from the mound in an intense workout regimen. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Middle Tennessee State signee gained 5-7 mph on his fastball, which ranges 88-91 and has been clocked as high as 94 in a summer league tournament with eXposure Baseball.
Earning the nickname "Chapman" from his teammates, in reference to New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, Julian gives almost no time for opposing hitters to react. And a professional approach to maintaining his arm and body make him a threat to go the distance any time he toes the rubber.
"Almost every day in the offseason I would long-toss from field-goal post to field-goal post on the football field," Julian said. "I also did a lot of arm care with the medicine ball and bands. Legs are a big part of pitching, and I got up to 570-plus pounds on my squat. I even go to the chiropractor some to make sure my back is in line and my body is tuned up."
Julian's one-upped his opening-day no-hitter with Monday's game against Red Bank. The only runner allowed on base in either game came via an error. His other wins have come against district rivals Signal Mountain and Central.
As one of two district pitchers to strike out more than 100 batters last season, with an average of two or more per inning, Julian is putting up mind-blowing numbers again. He is 4-0 for the season with a 1.52 earned run average and a 0.61 WHIP. He has struck out 43 batters in 23 innings and allowed only five hits.
"I don't try to do too much when I pitch," Julian said. "The biggest thing is to stay consistent and work the umpire. If you keep throwing strikes, he's going to keep calling them. Getting ahead is the biggest key for any pitcher."
He's nasty to other pitchers. The three-hole hitter, Julian is batting .486 (18-for-37) with 19 RBIs and 18 walks (five intentional). His on-base percentage is .655.
He, shortstop/pitcher Rollins and catcher Landon Wallace comprise a senior trio determined to accomplish a district four-peat and stretch their season all the way to the Class AA state tournament.
"We are here to win and help teach these younger guys what it takes to do so," Julian said. "We hate losing. Every time we step on the field we give our all. We are going to go after whoever we face."