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Freshman is just a title for Noah Dent

Posted: May 18, 2014 10:31 p.m.
Updated: May 18, 2014 10:31 p.m.

Santa Clarita Christian freshman Noah Dent carries a 0.52 ERA and a 9-0 record as his team's ace starting pitcher. He's a big reason why SCCS is ranked No. 1 in CIF-Southern Section Division VII.

 

Freshmen aren’t supposed to be dominant.

They aren’t supposed to be counted on to carry the brunt of the team’s pitching workload either.

But Santa Clarita Christian freshman Noah Dent has done both of those things for his Cardinals, helping lead them to a 17-1 overall record, 9-0 in the Heritage League for a league championship and the No. 1 ranking in CIF-Southern Section Division VII.

All of this before his 15th birthday.

“Sometimes it leaves me speechless, to have a kid this young doing that well,” says Cardinals head coach Garrick Moss. “What makes him special is his composure on the mound. Nothing ever fazes him. Nothing gets to him.”

The 5-foot, 10-inch, 145-pound left-hander has been unreal for SCCS.

He holds a perfect 9-0 record, with five shutouts and a minuscule 0.52 ERA and he tossed a no-hitter on May 8 against Faith Baptist.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy under (a 1.0 ERA) this late in our school’s history,” says Moss.

The only other pitcher in the Santa Clarita Valley close to Dent is Saugus’ junior Anthony Donatella who has an ERA of 0.56.

Dent has allowed only nine runs, four of them earned, over 54 innings pitched. He holds a 64 to six strikeout-to-walk ratio and opposing batters are hitting just .157 against him with a .181 on-base percentage.

Put simply, Dent has been untouchable.

These are numbers not many pitchers can attain, let alone a 14-year-old seeing his first season of high school ball.

“I came in confident but I wasn’t expecting to put up these stats,” says Dent. “I try not to let anything bother me on the mound. If I do something bad then I can’t do anything about it so I move on.”

It didn’t take long for Dent to realize he could make an impact on the mound for SCCS.

In the Cardinals’ first game of the season against Concordia High, Dent came in to pitch the final inning of a 13-1 blowout in favor of SCCS.

He struck out all three batters he faced.

“That was a boost for me,” he says. “I had first-game jitters but that helped me calm down and realize that I could play at this level.”

He hasn’t looked back since that first trip to the mound.

Dent relies heavily on his fastball but turns to his slider when he’s in a bind. As his go-to pitch when he needs an out, Dent likes to bury his slider in the dirt and get batters chasing.

It gets strikeouts but often times it requires freshman catcher Joe Sparks to knock the ball down and throw the batter out at first.

“(Joe) is half of the reason I’ve been doing so well,” says Dent. “I don’t think he’s allowed a runner on after a strikeout all year. It’s great to have a guy back there that I can depend on.”

While Dent isn’t blowing batters away with his power — he says he’s been clocked around the low to mid 70s — it’s his ball location that gets him outs.

And when he does allow batters to get on, his pickoff move to first is nearly as deadly as his slider.

“He has great command over his pitches,” says Moss. “And he’s already picked off four or five guys off of first base. He’s very crafty. It’s not something you normally see in a kid his age.”

And on a team with no seniors and only six juniors, the future looks bright for the Cardinals.

Dent’s pitching has been consistent from the beginning but his offensive production came later.

Early in the season he was struggling from the plate, but still getting on base by way of walks and getting hit by pitches.

He’s since found his comfort zone in the batter’s box and is hitting .441, good enough for fourth in the Heritage League, with 17 runs scored and 13 RBIs.

More impressive, however, is his on-base percentage, which is a league-high .667.

“He was struggling at the plate earlier but now he’s on a tear,” says Moss. “He never got discouraged. That’s just who he is. He doesn’t let anything bother him and he keeps moving forward.”

Now all Dent and his Cardinals can do is wait to see whom their first-round matchup will be against in the CIF-Southern Section Division VII postseason, which begins on Tuesday.

With strong pitching from Dent and junior Clint Ross, the Cardinals look poised to make a run at their second CIF championship, the first coming in 2004 when another freshman pitcher named Augie Detres was the team’s ace.

“We’ve been playing well as a team,” says Dent. “We have a lot of guys that can make plays and I’m excited to see what we can do.”

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