- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

LAWRENCE, KAN. (AP) - Not knowing what to expect this season, Kansas’ Shaeffer Hall took the mound in the first game and walked the first batter.

“Walking the leadoff guy,” said Kansas pitching coach Ryan Graves, “wasn’t the way we wanted to start off the season.”

However, things turned for the better for Hall and the Jayhawks that day. He threw the fifth individual no-hitter in Kansas baseball history against Air Force on Feb. 20, the first since David Hicks no-hit Northwest Missouri State in 1980.

“Around the fifth or six inning, I realized I hadn’t given up any hits,” Hall said. “From then on, I realized the situation and took one batter at a time. And fortunately, it worked out for me. All I wanted to do was put my team in a position to win.”

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my defense,” Hall said. “We had some really great plays that were made, especially by David Narodowski and Robby Price.”

After that leadoff walk, Hall retired 17 in a row. He ended up walking three and hitting one batter.

“A lot of the guys came up to me after the game giving me a hard time and asking why I didn’t throw a no-hitter,” Hall joked. “I’m not sure what they expect from me.”

Hall was invited to play in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer. The league has been known as an elite amateur baseball league with many of the college players moving on to play professionally.

“He got a big shot of confidence playing in the Cape Cod League and pitched well up there,” Graves said. “He brought that back in the fall. He’s attacking hitters a little bit more and is more aggressive than he was at the start of last year. I think it has really paid off for him.”

Hall saw it as an opportunity to prove himself to the team he could be the ace.

“I felt like I could be the No. 1 guy having that experience this summer and becoming a better pitcher all-around,” he said. “Being it my junior year, I wanted the responsibility of being the ace. We have some great pitchers on this staff and I knew I needed to work hard to keep that. I’m ready to take on that challenge and compete my hardest every night.”

Hall’s favorite major league pitcher is Boston left-hander Jon Lester.

“We’re both left-handed. He throws harder than me, which is why he’s a major leaguer. But he likes to spot up, too, which is more of my type of pitching style,” he said.

Graves prefers to compare Hall to Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux.

“He mixes his fastball, change-up and breaking ball and gets by with his sense of pitching more than his stuff,” Graves said. “He’s a thinking-man’s pitcher, like a Glavine or a Maddux. He’s not going to overpower you with stuff, but he can really frustrate batters with his location and a mix of pitches.”

Graves sees Hall’s control as a huge weapon for the Jayhawks.

“As our Friday night guy, he can set the tone for the weekend,” Graves said. “If he gives us a solid outing and gets deep into the game with a chance for us win without using our bullpen, that sets the tone for the series.”

Hall was drafted out of high school by the Texas Rangers in the 28th round of the 2006 draft. Not satisfied with his placement, he decided to go to Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo.

He earned a spot on the NJCAA All-American second team after he went 10-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 83 innings, while throwing six complete games.

After that, several schools started recruiting Hall, including Missouri and Kansas.

“Being an all-around Jayhawk fan growing up, getting the opportunity to play at KU was a dream come true,” Hall said. “I couldn’t pass it up.”

Hall faced Missouri for the first time in his collegiate career last year, and threw seven shutout innings against the No. 12 Tigers in a victory at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.

“He’s one of the harder workers on the team,” Graves said. “More than anything, he leads by example. With a young staff, when he feels like he needs to say something or if he sees something from a young guy that he needs to correct, he’ll correct it.

“From a work ethic standpoint, he’s everything you want from a player.”

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