Mount Airy pitching ace Jon Cagle has agreed to play for Surry Community College next year.
The 6-foot-4 righthander is a returning all-conference player after going 8-2 on the mound and batting nearly .400.
Cagle landed on the radar of SCC baseball coach Jamie Lowe as a sophomore after a couple of standout performances on the mound.
Those two games are the favorite sports memories so far for parents Kim and Brad Cagle.
Against North Stokes, the slender pitcher struck out 19 batters in 21 outs for a one-hit shutout. Against Surry Central, Cagle pitched a no-hitter.
Jon just seemed to be in such great control against the Vikings, she said. He was just humming.
Kim said she knew that Jon was having a good game against the Eagles, but it hadn’t dawned on her yet he hadn’t given up a single hit until another parent mentioned it near the end of the game.
Jon said he was aware that he hadn’t allowed a hit as early as the third inning, but tried to push that out of his mind and focus just on the batter at the plate.
He was just so raw at the time, Mount Airy baseball coach Jon Cawley would say later. He had talent, but he didn’t know much about being a pitcher at the time.
He is definitely learning, Lowe said. Cawley is doing a great job helping the young man learn the ins and outs of pitching, and Lowe thinks it will be fun to work closely with Cagle, too.
Despite his two big games as a sophomore, Cagle also had a few tough outings and didn’t get voted onto the Northwest All-Conference Team.
Last year, he showed better consistency from game to game. After going 7-3 as a sophomore, he improved to 8-2 despite being slated to face the best teams on the schedule.
“If the team had a big game, he pitched it,” Cawley said. Despite the level of competition, Cagle’s earned-run average the past two seasons is a stellar 1.91.
Over that same two years, his batting average has been .367. Cawley said Cagle was pushing .400 last season after he quit getting himself out by being more selective at the plate.
Coach Cawley has a list of nine criteria that he wants batters to consider when they are at home plate, said Cagle. These things include drawing a walk, moving a baserunner over and making the pitcher throw several pitches in one at-bat.
If he does one or more of these criteria, then the batter had a “quality at-bat” whether he got a hit or not.
Cagle said he earned a quality at-bat in 75 percent of his plate appearances, best on the team. Cawley awarded Cagle with the Quality At-Bat Award at the team’s awards banquet.
In addition to the two big pitching performances his sophomore year, Cagle said one of his best memories was going 5-5 against North Surry last year. Not only was it the first time he’s ever had five hits in one game, it came in a rivalry game.
Lowe said that he has been told that Cagle has a good work ethic.
“Jon is the consummate coach’s dream for a baseball player,” said Cawley. “He knows the game, studies it.”
The first time Cawley saw the young pitcher playing catch in practice, the coach asked Cagle how many different pitches he could throw. The sophomore replied twelve.
“Twelve? I can’t even name 12 pitches,” Cawley said. “How about we focus on three for now?”
“He is humble, polite, very driven and very competitive, a great teammate,” said Cawley. “Surry Community College got a jewel today. I fully suspect it won’t be the last team he plays for.”
Jon first played T-ball when he was only four years old, said Kim. Since then he has either played for a recreational league or school team every year.
He not only works out with his high school team, she said, Jon works out on his own, with his brother James and with teammate Kenny Overfelt. And, she added, he has played the past year and a half with the Carolina Rockies AAU team out of Clemmons.
Cagle said he first met Lowe after the home game with North Surry last year. Over the summer, he verbally agreed to attend SCC.
Lowe likened Cagle to a pro team getting a draft pick in the lottery.
Community colleges often get players who are pretty good, but who may have already maximized their potential, he explained. Jon has a lot of upside left to be realized.
He is tall and has plenty of room to fill out over the next two years, Lowe said. With his body maturing and getting better with workouts, Cagle has a chance to really bloom.
Lowe said that Cagle was clocked at 88 miles per hour in practice last year, but usually pitches in the mid-80s in games. In two years, he might be pitching in the low-90s.
Lowe said he was glad to keep a talented player here locally.
Community colleges don’t have athletic scholarships to hand out to all the players, but SCC does have one scholarship that was endowed by a local family that Lowe said will go to the Cagles next year.
The $1,500 will cover most of the SCC bills, noted Cagle.
For the pitcher, SCC gives him a go-between from high school to university.
He said he is still undecided on what to study in school. He can put in two years at SCC and build up his credits while figuring out what major to choose.
But first, he still has his senior year left to go, which should make Bear fans very happy.