Thursday 22 Aug 2019

Athlete of the Week: Lee Sutton

James Kenan High School


If Lee Sutton knew years ago what he knows now, the James Kenan senior would have picked up a football a long time ago.

A four-sport senior standout for the Tigers, Sutton is living proof that routinely throwing a football can pay major dividends on the baseball field.

Sutton joined James Kenan’s football team as a backup quarterback and long snapper for his senior season. Throwing the pigskin at practice and in pregame warmups added velocity to Sutton’s fastball, as well as increased arm strength.

“The weight of throwing a football can really help a pitcher,” Tigers’ baseball coach Robbie Futch said. “Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens both used to throw a football a lot. It’s really helped Lee a lot with his velocity and his arm strength. He’s seen a big difference in his performance on the mound since he started throwing a football.”

Sutton is this week’s Mt. Olive Pickles High School Athlete of the Week. The High School Athlete of the Week is a partnership between Curtis Media Group and Mt. Olive Pickles to recognize local high school athletes who excel athletically, academically and through service to their community.

The recognized athletes are chosen by the athletic department and administration from their respective high schools.

With a curveball, changeup and a slider accompanying his fastball in his arsenal on the mound, Sutton has found the mechanics of throwing a football to be similar to those he uses while pitching. Sutton relies on the improved velocity of his fastball to get ahead in the count, and his curveball to put hitters away.

Currently in his third years on the Tigers’ varsity squad, Sutton has recorded 66 strikeouts and surrendered just 23 earned runs in 72 innings pitched. He also has a career 2.24 earned run average and a no-hitter to his credit.

“When I was a freshman and a sophomore I wasn’t very big,” Sutton said. “I’ve grown a lot. That’s helped me gain some velocity and I’ve also added a slider.”

Sutton’s value on the diamond extends beyond the mound and to the infield, where he’s comfortable playing first base, third base and shortstop.

“I think thats one of Lee’s strengths that he’s able to play in different positions,” Futch said. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen him pick up some leg speed, and pick up some arm speed. Playing multiple sports has definitely helped him. On the mound, he’s always going to give you a quality start and keep you in the ballgame.”

Sutton is also a small forward on James Kenan’s basketball team, and he is also a member of the golf team. Keeping his skills polished in four different sports requires Sutton to stay focused mentally, and to be diligent with his time.

“It’s about your mindset and staying focused,” Sutton said. “It’s about working on your skills in different sports.”

Aside from athletics, Sutton also maintains a 4.2 grade point average and is a member of the Beta Club. He plans to attend Campbell University following high school, to study exercise science.

“I like Campbell because it’s smaller and closer to home,” Sutton said. “I want to major in exercise science because I want come back and be a coach.”

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