The word “crafty” is often used to describe left-handed pitchers. Dakota Herman is that and much more.
The Woodland Park High School junior is sporting a nice .2.55 ERA through 11 innings this season and seems to be on his way to establishing himself as the ace of the staff.
“He seems to be able to shut teams down once guys get on base,” said Woodland Park coach Cliff Richardson. “He is able to work with traffic on the bases. He gets strikeouts when he needs to.”
On March 15, Herman tossed six scoreless innings against Canon City, but had a no-decision as Woodland Park lost 4-3 in nine innings. He scattered five hits, while striking out seven and walking three.
“His off-speed pitches are well-timed and well-placed,” Richardson said. “It makes his fastball look even faster. It gets right up there and past the batters.”
Herman possesses a fastball, curve and change. He used those pitches to earn a victory in the season opener against Fort Morgan. In that game, he allowed four hits in five innings, while striking out seven and walking three.
Woodland Park has lost three straight since. Last week it also lost to Falcon, 13-2.
“We gave up 10 unearned runs,” Richardson said. “We didn't catch a couple of fly balls and we didn't make some plays on routine grounders.”
Senior right-hander Keegan Harman got the loss. He allowed 10 runs (two earned) on five hits in 2 1/3 innings.
The Panthers had just four hits as a team. Senior Cody Hedges tripled and scored, while junior Robert Woods had two hits and scored a run. Nick Grayckowski had the other hit.
The Canon City game was a nail biter. The Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, but Canon City tied it in the top of the seventh.
Canon City tallied two more in the top of the ninth for the difference.
Harman had a double, single and RBI against Canon City. Karl Loy and Kayden Osborn each had a hit and RBI.
The Panthers played Manitou Springs on March 18 in their final game before spring break. When they come back they begin Class 4A Metro League action at defending conference champion Coronado on April 1.
“That's when all the seriousness starts,” Richardson said. “I have faith in these guys that they will be ready for league.”
Woods leads all Panthers hitters with a .556 average. Also off to hot starts are Osborn, (.444), Jason Kekich (.375), Herman (.400) and Grayckowski (.357).