GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) After three starts in his junior season, JR McDermott sat the rest of the year with an arm injury. It was a long summer of rest for the Aurora, Colorado native. But now he's back on the bump and ready for his senior season.
"It's felt great to be back,” said McDermott. “I mentioned last year was really tough for me mentally, physically everything. It was probably the toughest year of my career."
Head coach Chris Hanks had set a pitch count in the first few weeks back for McDermott but as the wins piled up, he saw more time on the mound.
"I'm always confident in my abilities but I just felt like I was going to come back and be the same person I was,” McDermott said. “Not think about any of the injuries or anything like that."
"Any time your best players or pitchers are healthy and performing and back, it's always a good scenario,” head coach Chris Hanks said. “A lot of times, when you start off the weekend with a strong outing, things tend to be contagious in a lot of instances. That can elevate other guys performances."
In his first outing on January 8, McDermott had nine strikeouts in five innings. His best game came against Colorado School of Mines allowing no runs with 12 strikeouts in eight innings of work.
"When I'm in there, I don't really know how many I'm throwing,” said McDermott. “It's just kind of how I am feeling. I mean, I was feeling good. After the game, you see I threw one hundred-some pitches and (shrugs). I still felt good after so that's all that matters."
In back to back starts, JR pitched against his brother Danny who plays for School of Mines and Matt with Colorado Springs. His parents do what they can to support each of their sons.
"Oh, it's fun. We competed all growing up in the cul-de-sac and playing everything,” said McDermott. “We kind of know each other in and out. They do the split t-shirt where it's like half a Mesa shirt, half a Springs shirt or Mines. It's been fun."
McDermott is undefeated on the mound this season and looks like the old JR. He was part of the 2017 team that finished in the semifinals of the NCAA championships and wants to get back in his last year with the Mavericks.
"Sophomore year when we were in the World Series, that was crazy,” McDermott said. “That was so much fun hanging with the guys. You're basically with them for the whole week, twenty four hours a day. We just want to get back there and show the younger guys what it's like."