High School | General | 11/6/2019

Crowder spikes 2020 rankings

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Jack Crowder (Crowder Family)
2020 righthanded pitcher Jack Crowder had a heck of a summer.

In two consecutive Perfect Game events in July and September, he was named to the All-Tournament team and also the Most Valuable Pitcher of the event.

In July, at the 2019 WWBA 17u Prospect Meadows National Championship in Marion, Iowa, Crowder tossed eight scoreless innings across two appearances for the Cangelosi Sparks 2020 Black, striking out five along the way. He was back in Marion again in September at the 2019 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship, where he threw a six-inning shutout with 11 strikeouts against a talented Chicago Scouts Association lineup.

Crowder said he has come to expect results like that from himself. Not the trophies for MVP performances, but the stat lines that have earned him those honors.

“It means a lot to go out to those tournaments against the best kids in the Midwest and the best kids in the nation and to pitch well and get those awards,” Crowder said. “To get those awards and what I’ve accomplished, it means a lot with what I’ve worked for. It pays off at those tournaments. I go into tournaments knowing what I can do and expecting to do my best. Every time I pitch, I have a mindset of knowing I have the inside track to getting those awards if I go out and dominate.”

Crowder had his fastball up to 92 mph in July at the Prospect Meadows National Championship, with his changeup clocking in at 83 mph. Those numbers, plus the results to go with at that event and at the Kernels Foundation Championship, had him squarely on the national radar.

Then, Crowder travelled down to Jupiter, Fla. to play in the 2019 WWBA World Championship with the Cangelosi Sparks 2020 Black, and touched 95 mph on the radar gun.

In the updated Perfect Game class rankings, Crowder is up to No. 135.

His eyes aren’t glued to the rankings, but there was some validation there.

“I don’t really pay attention that much [to the rankings],” Crowder said. “Obviously it’s cool to see myself that high up in the rankings, but as far as my play goes, I don’t play to try to get higher in the rankings or anything. It’s obviously cool to be ranked up there with the best kids in the nation, but I try not to look at it all that closely.”

It’s in his blood. Crowder’s father, David, was a first baseman at Nicholls State. And as far as athleticism, he got just as much from his mother as he did from his dad – Crowder’s mother played volleyball at Nicholls State.

His dad has been his biggest fan, and biggest supporter, according to Jack.

“He’s always pushed me to be my best,” he said. “He’s never pushed me over the edge, but he’s always had my back and pushed me to be the best player I can be. Knowing my strengths and weaknesses, he knows what areas I need to improve.”

But as far as pitching goes, he hasn’t had the chance to learn from his dad, him having been a first baseman.

Crowder said he takes what he sees from certain Major League pitchers and tries to emulate what they do on the mound. On certain pitcher was just named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series, and the other was waiting to be used out of the bullpen in Game 7 of that same World Series.

Stephen Strasburg has one of the most devastating changeups in the game, and will get him paid handsomely in free agency this winter. Ditto for Gerrit Cole and his nasty slider.

Those two pitches are now a part of Crowder’s arsenal, along with his 95 mph heater.

And that arsenal has him committed to play for the Illinois Fighting Illini, a school a little more than two hours away from his hometown of Romeoville, Illinois.

He said that it is partly due to playing for the Sparks, which he credited for getting him the exposure he needed.

“I started out when I was younger playing…with a bunch of kids that are playing for the Sparks now,” Crowder said. “As we started getting older and developed more, we wanted to get more exposure, and the Sparks are notorious for getting guys good exposure for colleges. So five or six of us moved to the Sparks and the transition worked out well for us.”

Crowder could go play down south somewhere. With that arm, he could probably have his choice of school.

But the allure of staying at his home state school and building something there was so strong, he couldn’t pass it down.

“I love the coaching staff, I love the atmosphere,” Crowder said of the Illini. “They love winning. And it’s not only the baseball side, Illinois is a really prestigious school for education, which is great to get a degree from there. They’re on their way to winning, they’re up in the rankings now, and I want to be a part of that winning style.

“Last year there were a ton of young players that played at Illinois. The only way they’re going is up, they’re going to be good for a number of years. They’re getting really good recruits in there, and they’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

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