By Barbara Boxleitner


Daily Light correspondent


Before the pandemic suspended sports play, pitcher Jackson Leath had an impressive start to the baseball season.


The Waxahachie High School graduate had a team-best 4-0 record and a 1.45 earned run average in five appearances in his first year playing for University of Tennessee.


Previously a pitcher for Blinn College, he held opponents to a .167 batting average in 18 2/3 innings, second most on the squad. "The hitters in junior college are really good," he said. "It made the jump (to Division I) easier."


Tennessee pitching coach Frank Anderson said Leath performed well. "He's got a good arm," said Anderson, whose son, Brett, is a Major League Baseball pitcher. "He's got a good future."


Leath led the team with 29 strikeouts, including 12 over four and one-third innings to earn the victory in his debut. He struck out eight over four and two-third innings in winning his next outing.


The 6-foot-1 right-hander said he tweaked his delivery during the fall. "My front foot was landing a bit too soon, which made me throw across my body," he said.


By correcting that tendency, he said, "It would kind of save me in the long run" because it would prevent injury.


The coach said Leath's fastball topped at 98 mph in the fall and 97 in the spring and that he has been proficient with his other pitches. "He's got a real hard curveball he can throw for strikes," he said. "His slider's pretty good. His changeup is a work in progress."


Leath changed the grip of his changeup, spreading out his fingers more. The aim was to become more consistent throwing the pitch, for he said, "My breaking stuff is better than the changeup."


Since play ended, he has continued conditioning and throws four to five times a week. If college leagues happen during the summer, he plans to pitch where the coaches place him.


Softball


Talia Salinas hit .303 in 16 games for Oklahoma Wesleyan University. The sophomore out of Waxahachie High had one home run and 10 runs batted in. The pitcher led the team with 3 victories, and she had four losses.


Red Oak High product Lacy Weaver batted .429 in three games for McPherson College. The freshman catcher had one RBI.


Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at jdanddoc@gmail.com.