BY STEVE KRAH
When Grant Herron delivers a baseball from a pitching mound it’s not hard to see what his tennis serve looks like.
Herron is now a junior in the starting rotation at Morehead (Ky.) State University (27-17 overall, 10-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference).
But he was a standout on the court while at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., where he graduated in 2020.
Serving over-the-top, Herron joined doubles partner Nic Ballesteros to be first-team all-state in the fall of 2018.
“There is a direct correlation,” says Herron, who is slated to pitch the second game of the Eagles’ OVC series Saturday, May 6 against Eastern Illinois.
As a pitcher, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Herron employs a two-seam sinking fastball that sits between 87 and 90 mph and tops out around 92 plus a “1-to-7” curveball and a splitter (split-finger fastball).
“I couldn’t throw a change-up when I was younger,” says Herron. “I switched to the splitter the COVID summer (2020) and just stuck with it.
“It’s a lot easier for me to throw (than a change-up). It’s a little slower and just topples off the table.”
In 2023, Herron has made 11 mound appearances (10 starts) and is 5-1 with a 4.97 earned run average, 58 strikeouts and 41 walks in 50 2/3 innings.
For his college career, the righty is 10-6 with two saves, a 5.79 ERA, 137 strikeouts and 91 walks in 115 innings over 45 games (19 starts). He was the OVC Pitcher of the Week in early 2022.
During his athletic career, Herron has learned that knowledge is power.
“It’s knowing what I’m doing when I’m supposed to be doing it,” says Herron. “That’s a tell tale sign for a lot of athletes.
“Athletes that know what they’re doing automatically look like better athletes.”
Herron has also displayed leadership with his teammates.
“You have your outspoken leaders and people who lead by example,” says Herron, who considers himself a vocal leader. “For me, it’s not telling them what to do, but giving them advice and telling them what’s led to my success and what I think will help them with their success.”
Former Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki is the field boss at Morehead State.
“He’s a very smart individual,” says Herron of Aoki. “He’s high energy. He knows a lot about pitching. He does a lot with the pitchers.”
Brady Ward, a 2019 Tiffin (Ohio) University graduate, is the Racers pitching coach.
“He’s young and he’s easy for a lot of the guys to talk to,” says Herron of Ward. “I like that he’s not so concerned with the numbers, but the action of the pitch.”
Last summer, Herron did not play for a team. Instead, he went to P3 (Premier Pitching Performance) in the St. Louis suburb of Wentzville, Mo., got an assessment and came back to Greenwood to train. He trained with Jay Lehr at Pro-X Athlete Development in Westfield, Ind., in the summer of 2021 and played in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield in 2020.
Herron anticipates working with Pitching Performance Lab in Lexington, Ky., this summer. PPL has partnered with Morehead State.
Born in Indianapolis, Herron grew up in Greenwood.
He played rec ball until 8 or 9 then entered the travel ball world. First came the Center Grove Trojans then Indiana Elite and in high school the Northern Stars (coached by former professional pitcher Jamie Sailors).
Herron was on the CG junior varsity baseball team as a freshman. As a sophomore, he pitched on varsity and hit on JV. He was full-time varsity as a junior. The COVID-19 pandemic caused his senior season to be canceled.
In 2019, Herron went 7-1 with a 1.02 ERA, 68 K’s and 15 walks in 48 innings on the bump and hit .400 with five home runs and 40 runs batted in for the Keith Hatfield-coached Trojans.
“I think he’s a very good coach,” Herron says of Hatfield. “I liked playing under him. He always had the best intentions for high school players. He was always worried about the next step in kids’ careers. He was getting them ready to go to college and play ball.”
Coaching the pitchers when Herron was at Center Grove was Jeff Montfort with help from Hatfield.
Herron also got pointers from Lehr and Paul Butcher.
A Finance major on track to graduate in May 2024, Grant is the son of Mike and Amy Herron and has a younger sister, Madison Herron.