Island life changes currents for Monarch pitcher

BASEBALL: Hawaii shows the Monarch pitcher a different side to life.

By Jorge Belon, Managing Editor 

ENJOYING THE MOMENT - Sophomore Valley pitcher Robbie Stowell is playing stress free baseball for the first time in his life as he finished with an ERA of 2.22 that placed him sixth in the Western State Conference.Jay Gilliland / Photographer

ENJOYING THE MOMENT – Sophomore Valley pitcher Robbie Stowell is playing stress free baseball for the first time in his life as he finished with an ERA of 2.22 that placed him sixth in the Western State Conference.

Robert Mason Stowell III discovered his true form as pitcher riding the powerful Hawaiian waves as he wiped out hitters with an 81-mph fastball.

“I went to Hawaii during the winter to visit my brother, and I was in a funk. I did not have that good of a fall. It just did not look like I was going to do a lot of pitching this  year,” said Stowell. ” Then I went out to Hawaii and it put things in perspective. It really helped me find my identity as a left handed pitcher. I really think that set me up to have a really good season.”

There is no mistaking the six-foot-three left-handed pitcher’s love of baseball; it runs through his mind all the time. He enjoys the game for the strikeouts and other physical aspects, but recently he became fascinated with the intellectual side.

“I always had the physical side down, being tall and skinny and left handed, but what I now really admire is the thinking part of the game,” said the Monarch pitcher.

To most people, baseball is a game of throwing the ball into a glove or getting on base. Stowell reads the game as Neo read the Matrix: it’s all in code. He reads the hitters as they step up to the plate. He savors the decision-making process that starts with the coach making signs, then having to take that information break it down and make it happen while the game is going on.

Since his high school days at Frazier Mountain High he knew that he did not have a lethal fastball but he still forced the issue. Even in his first semester at Valley College in 2014 he continued to rely on his 81-mph-average “heater” to do the trick.

In his freshman year he pitched in 22 innings, gave up 27 hits and walked 14 players. While also allowing 15 runs and committing 13 errors in the process. His struggles showed as he finished the season with a 5.16 ERA, which was not good enough to be ranked in the WSC top 50.

He wanted to make his final year the best after a disappointing freshman campaign. He continued to work on his fastball but grew frustrated and felt that he was hitting a wall with his game.

It took that mini-vacation to Hawaii to visit his brother that finally made the 19-year-old realize that he could not force something that had not naturally been given to him. In fact entering his final year at Valley he learned to enjoy baseball and life around him and with it he discovered his own pitching style. 

“I was relying on the fastball and I wanted to send everyone out with it, I was really forcing it and I was struggling and not enjoying myself,” said the animated Stowell, talking as much with his hands as his mouth. “It was not until Hawaii that I returned and I just started to discover what type of a pitcher I was. I love to play mind games with the hitters. It is a lot of fun to do that and mess with their heads. Never placing the ball at the same place twice and just constantly keeping them guessing. I just love doing that.”

The lefty found reason to smile on the field, pitching well enough to lead the team in appearances (16 of the team’s 36 games) and pitching in 48 innings, more than double of his freshman year. He also improved by walking five fewer players and slashing his ERA to 2.22, finishing in sixth place of the Western State Conference (WSC).

“I remember in his freshman year he did not play a lot,” said Valley Head Coach Dave Mallas. “This year he improved in almost every aspect we asked him to. When ever Robbie was on the mound this year we always had a good chance of winning the game.”

Now that the season is over he is now focused on deciding which four-year university he should go to, leaning towards a major in business or history. He hopes to be playing for his dream school, the University of Hawaii, but at the moment he is fishing through other offers.

“I have reviewed offers from schools but I am not committed yet,” said Stowell. “I want to go back to Hawaii for the summer if I pick a school before the semester ends. But I do not want to just rush this decision to just head back to Hawaii, I want to make sure I make the right choice and that I am happy with this decision. I mean, honestly, when you think it about I will be playing baseball while attending school for free…almost, it really cannot get any better then that. So I need to just enjoy this moment and take it day by day.”

When asked if he wants to play in the Majors one day, he responds with a smile and once again his hands translate what he is saying.

“Of course I would love to get drafted and I honestly think just a semester ago I would of been freaking about this topic,” said the sophomore. “But now I look at it and think if I do not make it, life still goes on. There are so many things out there and baseball will not decided whether I am happy or not in my life. I honestly believe that we control our own happiness, but one thing I do know for sure is that I will one day call the shores of Hawaii my home.”

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