Austin Sexton was dominant at Sparkman (Ala.) High School running a fastball by hitters at 90 mph.
The 6-foot-1 right-hander earned All-American honors by Perfect Game and All-Region by Rawlings during his prep career but has had to adjust to life on the mound at the college level Mississippi State this spring.
“It’s a lot different than high school obviously,” Sexton said. “You’ve just got to slow everything down and take it all in the best you can. In high school you can get away with a lot of stuff, especially with the fastball. You can make a lot more mistakes. In college, coach (Butch) Thompson has told us it’s not how hard you throw it but where you throw it.”
Although Sexton grew up a Bulldog fan, it was the chance to learn under Thompson that led the Huntsville native across the state line over offers from Auburn, South Alabama, Troy and UAB.
“Coach Thompson is one of the best pitching coaches in the nation, if not the best,” Sexton said. “I have the utmost respect for him. I really wanted to go somewhere that I could learn as a pitcher and not just go out there and throw. I want to learn everything I need to know to get to the next level because that’s my next goal and I felt like this was the best place to hone my skills and develop.”
Sexton’s arsenal featured three pitches when he arrived – a four-seam fastball, curve and change-up. He and Thompson have been working on a two-seam fastball this spring that cuts down on his velocity but creates much more movement with the new grip.
Sexton appeared in nine games as a true freshman including three starts. He had 2-0 record with a 5.16 earned run average with 18 strikeouts and 16 walks working 22.2 innings.
Sexton made his debut in the opening series of the season against Western Carolina. He tossed two innings of shutout relief giving up a hit and a walk while notching a pair of strikeouts.
“I remember being told to go down to the bullpen and my hands started to sweat a little bit,” Sexton said. “I was ready to go but at the same time I was a little nervous. When I ran onto the field my heart was obviously pumping a little bit. It was a lot different than pitching in the fall when the stands are empty. I grew up a Bulldog fan so it was an awesome experience.”
Sexton is spending his summer pitching for the Lima Locos in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.