Majoring in consistency Baseball: Patterson's Shawn Fisher started as a freshman and has only gotten better as he has grown into the Clippers' leader.

May 12, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

At 5 feet 9, 160 pounds, Patterson middle infielder-pitcher Shawn Fisher's physical features are not likely to startle anyone.

But let the senior shortstop step up to the plate in a critical game situation, and he'll not only show why he's the most feared player in Baltimore City's public schools, but why veteran coach Roger Wrenn said, "He'd have been a four-year starter on any of my teams."

"People know what I've accomplished when I get up there [to hit or pitch]," Fisher said, "but I try to be the intimidator and not be intimidated by the situation."

A first-team All-City/County pick last year, Fisher, 18, has bailed out this year's 15th-ranked Clippers (17-2) "in at least six games this year," Wrenn said.

Down by three in the home seventh against Poly, Fisher's three-run opposite field triple tied the game before he scored the game-winning run. Fisher's seventh-inning, two-run double lifted the Clippers into a 3-3 tie with Mervo in a game suspended due to darkness, and on another occasion, his late-inning walk accounted for the game-winning run in a 5-4 win over Southern.

"When the cards are on the table, Shawn's money in the bank," Wrenn said of Fisher, whose teams have won three straight City League crowns and who is among only four Patterson players ever to start as a freshman.

"He hits for power, plays great, defensively, and most of all, just does whatever it takes to win. He does everything well."

At its best, Fisher's fastball goes 84 miles an hour. His four-pitch arsenal includes a circle-changeup, a curve and a quirky forkball release "that makes the ball come out funny," Fisher said.

"I'm also working on a slider, which I'll have, hopefully, by the start of the playoffs," said Fisher, whose combined pitching record is 20-3 with 161 strikeouts against 69 walks (5-0 this year).

Fisher's career numbers are a study in consistency, starting with his base-stealing ratio (45-for-48). He has averaged just under 20 RBIs and, at shortstop, second base and pitcher, only four errors.

Fisher hit .353 as a freshman and .533 as a sophomore. That average dipped to .451 last year with increased overall responsibility. But having matured as a leader, this year, Fisher's batting average has soared to a career-best .585 with a career-high 30 RBIs, four home runs and six each in doubles and triples.

"When I came here as a freshman, I was well aware of Patterson's tradition. And there were other guys on the team who had been around, so I looked up to them as leaders," said Fisher, a 3.0 student. "But I'm not into so much what I do as giving credit to the other guys on my team who get on base, get us in a position where I can maybe make a hit, score some runs.

"As a senior, this year," Fisher continued, "I just try to go out and play with the same kind of leadership I saw as a freshman."

Fisher shies away from comparisons to the great ones of Patterson baseball lore, but he thrives in clutch situations.

"Every time I'm up, it's like starting all over again. The butterflies. The nervousness. My adrenalin going a hundred miles an hour," Fisher said. "It's been that way for as long as I've been playing, and that's like eight or nine years."

Playing his off-season ball most recently with the Baltimore Redwings, whose home field is at Calvert Hall in Towson, Fisher's teammates have included Loyola's two-time All-Metro Adam McKenzie (now at Radford University) and Mount St. Joseph's Vince Volpe.

Fisher credits Redwings' coach, Jim Dunn -- father of St. Joe second-baseman Jimmy Dunn -- with cultivating much of his game.

"Even though a lot of guys make it to college or the pros based on size, I realized early in life that I'm not going to be the biggest guy on earth," Fisher said. "Coach Dunn and Coach Wrenn, they tell me not to worry about that, so I just to play the game of baseball -- but I'm hard-nosed about it."

Pub Date: 5/12/98

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