Houston Mabray signs with LBW, leads Trojans in to playoffsPublished 11:00pm Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Houston Mabray stands on the mound in front of a crowd of spectators every week, but doesn’t see one person outside of his catcher Chase Smartt.
Mabray, a soft-spoken senior, for the Charles Henderson Trojans signed a scholarship Tuesday evening to play for Lurleen B. Wallace Community College after his high school days are over. Mabray put pen to paper just a few minutes after picking up the win for the Trojans against area-foe Ashford.
“When I am out there on the mound, I don’t think about the people watching,” said Mabray. “It is just me and the catcher, working together to get the job done. They call it, I throw it.”
The signing came as a surprise to quite a few people, including Mabray’s coach, Derek Irons.
“I’m not a guy who likes a lot of publicity,” said Mabray. “It was my just something that I decided to do. I didn’t want to take away from what the team has done this season, so I thought it was best to do it home with my parents.”
Irons, Mabray’s coach for the duration of his high school career, said that the right-handed fireballer will be a great addition to any college roster.
“He is a competitor,” said Irons. “He doesn’t get flustered on the mound too often. There are times where he will give up a hit or walk, and come right back and get the next guy out.”
The Charles Henderson Trojans have been led to 28 wins by a staff of pitchers, with Mabray being one of the stars of the rotation. During his senior season, Mabray had “dynamite stuff” on most outings, Irons said, but was still good on “off days.”
Mabray came in to his senior season freshly removed from surgery on his elbow. The ulnar nerve is a central component of the arm when it is required to use a motion positioning the elbow at a 90 degree angle. In order to throw a baseball, players must move their elbow through the 90-degree position with violent force and velocity.
The surgery has not derailed the soft-spoken pitcher, and he feels that he can outs whenever the ball is handed to him.
“I know that I have a good defense behind me,” Mabray said. “Coach wants us to challenge hitters to put the ball in play. If they do hit it, I know that my defense will be there. If they don’t, then hey, I did my job.”
Lurleen B. Wallace head coach Steve Helms has had the opportunity to see Mabray pitch multiple times, and agrees with Irons assessment.
“He has been a winner for a long time,” said Helms. “He has good maturity and when you watch him pitch, you can’t tell if he is winning or losing. He keeps his emotions in control, and stays in a groove, which is something you want to see in a pitcher.”
Helms believes that Mabray will be a positive member to the Saint’s roster, and likes the way he handles himself of the mound.
“We feel that he has a great future ahead of him,” said Helms. “He has the ability to make the right pitch no matter what is happening around him. It is very exciting to watch a kid that can handle his emotions when every eye in the bleachers are on you.
The Saints have been to multiple Junior College World Series’ and captured the Alabama State Championship in 2004.
Helms has won over 700 games at the small community college in Andalusia, and says that Mabray will have the opportunity to compete for a spot immediately.
“There is no doubt that he will have the opportunity to compete when he walks through the door,” said Helms. “We will have all fall to get in the weight room and take part in the long toss program, where hopefully he will add some more velocity. We are excited to have him part of the LBW family.”
Mabray is excited about what lies ahead of after graduation, but is concentrated on helping the Trojans (28-2) hoist the “blue map” in a few weeks.
“I like going ahead and getting it out of the way,” Mabray said. “I play for CHHS right now, and that’s where my focus is. We have the chance to do big things if well work together.”