WATERVILLE — Tim Locke understates the early success he’s had with the Thomas College baseball team.

“It’s going pretty well,” Locke, who helped lead Waterville to back-to-back Class B state championships, said. “It’s a lot different than Class B baseball. This level’s a lot better. It’s just figuring out what everybody else has.”

Thomas head coach Greg King has no problem talking up the freshman who’s earned a spot in the starting rotation and a spot in the lineup.

“He’s been a little bit more than I expected. To come in as a freshman and do what he’s done these last couple of games is just outstanding,” King said. “I knew I was getting a good player when he came, but I didn’t realize he’d be that good, that quick.”

Locke is hitting .421 with five RBIs and two runs. He had a pair of hits in Tuesday’s North Atlantic Conference sweep of Husson. The Terriers (10-9) play four conference games at Lyndon State in Vermont this weekend.

In his last four games as Thomas’ designated hitter, Locke is 6 for 12, with five RBIs in and a run scored. In the preseason, Thomas coaches made minor, mechanical changes to Locke’s swing, making sure he keeps his hands back and has balance at the plate.

“In Arizona, I started off kind of slow. My bat wasn’t too hot, but as time went on, hitting started to click,” Locke said. “It’s getting the reps and getting the swings in.”

Added King: “When we first started the season, we had three or four guys we thought might be our DH. It was just, OK, who’s going to outplay who? Coming back from the spring trip, they each had about 18, 20 at bats. Timmy was hitting around .600, and it was a no brainer.”

It’s been the mound where Locke has really impressed. While in four appearances, including two starts, Locke is 0-1 with a 4.20 earned run average, it’s his start last weekend against Colby-Sawyer which has King and the Terriers excited.

“I was satisfied with my performance, but I would have liked to win,” Locke said.

Locke lost a tough 1-0 decision, but in his six inning, complete game effort, Locke gave up six hits, walked one and struck out nine.

“He pitched one of the best games I’ve seen a Thomas kid pitch in a long time against Colby-Sawyer. He had nine strikeouts, basically unhittable. We’ve got some older kids who had never seen nine strikeouts in a game before. He was blowing the ball by them,” King said.

Locke’s fastball is in the low 80s, and he counters that with a strong curve. Locke is working on a changeup, which he’s throwing for strikes.

“He started working on a split finger fastball that was absolutely nasty, but it was giving him some elbow problems,” King said. “Somebody that young, getting elbow problems after throwing a split finger for a couple weeks as he’s getting ready in the offseason, we’re just going to shut that down and work on a better quality pitch.”

Most of all, King likes Locke’s disposition.

“He’s got that type of personality where he’s carefree and loose. In baseball, that’s something you really need to have, because nothing ever bothers him. Nothing really phases him. It doesn’t matter who you’re facing, he’s not going to be intimidated by anybody,” King said.

Locke said he wants to continue to improve and help the Terriers make a run at the conference title.

“This gives us a lot of confidence beating these guys (Husson),” Locke said.

Travis Lazarczyk – 861-9242

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