Josh Russell has played nearly every position across the diamond, but it wasn’t until partway through this season that the Lakewood Ranch High senior found a new home on the infield.
Prior to this season, Russell had spent the majority of his time playing shortstop while occasionally pitching in relief for the Mustangs. But as the season progressed, Russell’s pitching continued to improve, and soon the right-hander became a permanent part of the Mustangs pitching rotation.
“This year, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” coach Mike Mullen said. “We’ve taken him out of his everyday shortstop role, and I think that’s helped him by keeping some of the pressure off his arm. He’s just done an outstanding job for us.”
Russell is 5-1 as a starter this season, with his most recent win coming April 21 against state-ranked and then undefeated Pendleton. He allowed just one run on six hits before turning the ball over in the seventh inning.
“It was pretty cool to beat them because they’re ranked (in the state), Russell said. “In the beginning of the season, I wasn’t really considered one of the coach’s go-to guys, but I guess I am now.”
After closing out their regular season with a 5-4 win over rival Braden River April 24, the Mustangs began their quest for a district title against Charlotte in a Class 5A-District 12 quarterfinal April 28.
The Mustangs beat the Tarpons earlier this season with Russell on the mound.
“As long I pitch well, then I shouldn’t have a problem,” Russell said. “I threw a complete game against them earlier this year, so I’m pretty confident going into the game.”
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