Staff Photo: John Bohn Tyler Haswell, of Peachtree Ridge. is the Daily Post's pitcher of the year.
SUWANEE -- As important as knowing one's role is in determining how valuable a baseball player is to his team, it is equally important for that player to be adaptable if he is asked to change that role.
That's exactly the situation Peachtree Ridge's Tyler Haswell found himself in this spring.
Having already adjusted to putting more emphasis on his work from the mound at the beginning of this season, the Lions' senior had to make another adjustment on the fly as the season progressed.
"I knew I was going to come into the year throwing a lot of innings," the 2013 Daily Post Pitcher of the Year said. "(Peachtree Ridge pitching) Coach (Tedd) Sims told me at the beginning, 'You're going to be throwing a lot. We're going to rely on you a lot this year,' mostly in the starting role. But I've been used to relieving my whole life. The first time I pitched, ... I was a closer."
Haswell definitely handled whatever role he was asked to fill this season.
The 6-foot, 180-pound right-hander posted a 6-3 record with a 1.34 earned run average and 85 strikeouts in 67 innings, most of which came as the ace of the Lions' starting rotation.
But while junior right-hander Drew Wharton did a solid job with three saves in six relief appearances, Haswell knew his experience could come in handy out of the bullpen down the stretch.
So he approached head coach Ryan Hanik about making himself available for some relief innings if the team needed it.
"We really didn't consider it until late in the season," Hanik said of using Haswell out of the bullpen. "But he kind of came to us and said, 'Anytime you need me and I'm able to throw, I want the ball.'
"We had the luxury with Drew Wharton, but he ended up coming to us and said, 'If I'm going to be throwing a bullpen (session between starts) anyway, I might as well close (those days).' And with a kid like that with a competitive side, he's going to be OK."
Haswell was more than OK when he was called upon out of the bullpen by converting four saves, including one in the deciding Game 3 of the Lions' first-round playoff win over West Forsyth after he won Game 1 in a start three days earlier.
"The closing role isn't too big a deal for me," Haswell said. "But I really felt like I was comfortable every time I went to the mound to pitch."
In addition to filling multiple roles for Peachtree Ridge -- he also hit .276 with a home run, 21 RBIs and 16 runs as a part-time infielder and designated hitter -- what was perhaps most impressive about Haswell's accomplishments was the level of competition they came against.
In addition to facing some of the county's top hitters in always rugged Region 7-AAAAAA, he often had to match pitches with some of the Gwinnett's best arms, frequently squaring off against such aces as Mill Creek's Cody Pugh, Norcross' Joseph Wilber and Collins Hill's Ryan Askew in region play, as well as Parkview's Mac Marshall during the second round of the playoffs.
"I love being in the spotlight, and I love pitching against big teams in big games," Haswell said. "Gwinnett County is stacked with great baseball players. Up and down, every team's got somebody really, really good. I just went out and did my thing, and I guess it worked out. I didn't really try to do too much."
Haswell's ability to come up clutch in big games against big-time competition will be put to the test as he takes his game to the next level beginning in the fall.
Having signed with South Carolina, a two-time NCAA College World Series champion, he will try go make his mark at one of the nation's top college baseball programs in one of the top conferences in the Southeastern Conference.
And Hanik has no doubt Haswell will be ready for prime time when he gets to the SEC.
"He's never shied away from better teams," Hanik said. "And he's played against some very good competition (in travel ball) at East Cobb. So, from a standpoint of facing the best, he's as ready for the SEC as anyone.
"There's going to be a learning curve, and he'll have some adjustments to make. He knows that. But with his confidence, ... he's not going to be overwhelmed by the moment."