SEA Games: Pitcher perfect

SEA Games: Pitcher perfect

He's a menace when he gets on the pitcher's mound, spraying fast balls in excess of 100kmh at will.

He does it at alarming regularity, establishing a reputation as one of the best baseball pitchers in the region with a top speed of 115kmh.

If that's not impressive enough, take a load of this - he's only 15 and, at his age, most pitchers struggle to reach the 100kmh barrier.

He is Jeron Tan (right) and he will be Singapore's most important weapon when the Republic competes in softball at next month's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

Speaking to The New Paper, he said: "I don't know how I've managed to throw so fast. Probably just training.

"I train a lot. We train two or three times a week after school and play up to three games at the weekend.

"I love strength training. I've been building up my muscles and sometimes, when I get the chance, I jog to maintain my stamina.

"When you exercise and exercise all the time, I guess the strength just comes by itself when I'm on the mound."

With 78kg packed into a 1.80 metre-tall frame, one would probably mistake him for someone much older.

He started playing softball at nine years old, after watching his father Jeffeury, who is also the president of the Singapore Baseball and Softball Association, participating in the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand.

Since then, Jeron has gone from strength to strength, representing Montfort Secondary School and then continuing his studies at Auckland's St Peter's College since January.

In the space of two months, Jeron helped St Peter's win the Auckland Softball Boys' Championship in the Under-17 and U-19 categories, while being awarded the Auckland Secondary Schools Tournament Most Valuable Player award for this year.

The older Tan is quick to point out where exactly his son's strengths lie.

"For his age, his focus and maturity are commendable, and I'm not saying this just because he's my son," said Tan.

"He's cool, calm and composed. In softball, you can't really distinguish players, but those who understand the sport know a good player when they see one.

SPINNING BALL

"Especially for pitchers, a 1kmh more of speed when pitching makes a world of difference.

"It's amazing how a kid who's only 15 can be perhaps the best pitcher in the team. You see, many pitchers throw a straight fastball. That's easy, anyone can do that.

"But it takes technique and awareness to be able to make the ball spin or move in the air. Not many can do that, but Jeron can."

For now, Jeron will be looking to do all the talking when he gets on the field, with a place in the final being the top target, where heavy favourites the Philippines could very well lie in wait.

"I hope my team will do well during the SEA Games and make the Kallang Softball Diamond ours," he said.

"It's an extremely good opportunity for me, as a pitcher, to play in such a big event.

"I don't feel nervous at all because I think I'm mentally prepared for this tournament.

"I might be up against some of the best softball players in the region but, when you believe you can, then you can."


This article was first published on May 24, 2015.
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