MADISON — Peyton Brown said his first taste of college baseball was everything he thought it would be — and much more.
“The first thing you notice is all of the talent around you,” he said. “Then you find your place there and you just want to contribute as much as possible to the team.”
Brown was a Class AA All-State first bagger/pitcher at Scott High where he enjoyed a trip to Charleston to compete in the West Virginia State Tournament.
This season, after about 15 games, Alice Lloyd had its season suspended via the NAIA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brown said he is disappointed, but he completely understands the need for the disruption.
“It is tough after getting all of that playing time and working so hard in the fall,” he said. “We got in 15 or so games.”
Brown is being utilized primarily as a starting pitcher but is also listed as a first baseman. He said the dual role is something he relishes, but he is primarily working at developing as a hurler.
All Brown did was throw 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball in his first college start. In the 2-1 win at Johnson (Tennessee), Brown gave up just a single hit and no runs.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said. “The adrenaline was pumping. It made my freshman year and gave me a lot of confidence, which helped me a lot early.”
In his second start versus Robert Morris, he got his first college win while hurling four innings and giving up just two runs.
Brown ranked 33rd in the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Conference with a 3.60 ERA before play was suspended.
“Coming out of high school and our program at Scott, I had a winning attitude.” He said. “That experience where you expect to win was important. Really, I focused on getting ahead of hitters and hitting my spots. My mechanics haven’t changed much but I’m working on a smoother delivery. I had to adjust to a tighter, more consistent strike zone in college.”
Brown has added velocity through focused workouts and his hitting the upper 80s on the radar gun today.
He describes his style as one that “attacks the strike zone” rather than nibble at the corners. He’s fine with a ground ball out off of the heels of a two and four seam fastball, curve, changeup and a splitter. He said that locating his curve and changeup have been a priority so he can use them in multiple counts, increasing his ability to win the chess match with college hitters.
“I’ve worked on setting hitters up,” he said. “The added velocity was needed and I’m excited about that.”
Coming out of fall practices, Brown didn’t think he would get on the field nearly as much as he did.
“I was surprised but I was going to take advantage of the opportunity at the same time,” he said. “Traditionally, freshmen don’t get on the field much and I got four starts and a relief appearance in about 15 games so that is progress.”
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound hurler said being fearless was his biggest asset.
“You have to go out there and be a bulldog and show them you aren’t afraid and earn respect,” he said. “They (other teams) may try to intimidate freshmen and you have to go out there and take the ball and be strong.”
Having played in high school for his father, AB Brown — who served as an assistant coach under then-head coach Brett Kuhn — Brown said that his attitude comes from his father.
“The biggest thing he taught me was that strike one is the best play in baseball,” he said. “He taught me that I can’t go on cruise control because someone is always there to take your spot. You’ve got to prove it every single day and that is what I set out to do.”
Brown will get another year of eligibility granted due to the season being suspended.
To this point, Brown is carrying a 3.8 GPA as he majors in criminal justice. Brown left Scott with nearly 30 hours of college credits under his belt through AP classes.
“I’d like to work in the DEA or Marshal Service someday,” he said. “I want to do something on the federal level. I have professors from that field and that is a real advantage for me.”
The Coal Valley News All-Boone County selection in 2019 earned his first college hit in 2020.
“It was a line drive to right field and I’ll never forget that feeling,” he added. “It is nice to shake that off of your shoulder and get your first hit out of the way.”
While he will likely graduate before his baseball eligibility is exhausted, Brown said he plans to continue with school until that eligibility is through.
“I want to experience baseball to the maximum,” he said. “It may allow me to get another degree during that time. Then I’ll get on with my career.”
Without baseball workouts while doing some distance classes, Brown is working on his winter workout routine of long tossing, weight lifting, running and hiking.
“Hiking is great and through this I have really enjoyed it,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed talking to my former teammates at Scott, too.”
Brown is ultimately positive about his future and said his decision to attend Alice Lloyd College is one he doesn’t regret.
Former prep standouts Eric Williams (Tolsia), Thomas Mullins, Matt Brown, Peyton Branham (Logan) and Noah Dingess (Chapmanville) are among Brown’s teammates.
“I feel at home there,” he said. “I have teammates from southern West Virginia and they are my best friends on the team. It feels like a family.”