Larry Cruikshank / Special to the Home News
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Stephen Singer could have easily thrown in the towel on his baseball career three years ago. But the 2006 Coronado graduate knew he had the potential to be a top performer.
Singer, a pitcher, missed his senior year with Coronado after suffering an arm injury in the first game of the season, and in two years with UNLV, he has only thrown 40.1 innings.
While others might have become discouraged, Singer dedicated himself to strengthening his arm and improving his secondary pitches as well as his mental approach. Now he hopes to be a key figure in the Rebels' rotation this spring.
UNLV coach Buddy Gouldsmith said he is happy to see Singer healthy and hopes to see him continue to improve as he works his way into a larger role on the team.
"These first couple of years have been a struggle for Stephen, but we're ready to see the fruits of his progress this year," Gouldsmith said. "I couldn't be more excited for anybody because of how hard he has been working to make sure he's ready."
That's music to Singer's ears after a season last year in which he threw only 27.1 innings while collecting 22 walks and 17 strikeouts and a 12.18 earned run average.
"I'm unbelievably excited to get a chance to contribute this year," Singer said. "Even just to be a weekend starter for a Division-I school is incredible to me. I'm going to do my best to help us get wins and anything else they need me to do."
Singer said it was hard for him to sit and watch his team play the last two years, not knowing when he would be able to pick up innings. But, ultimately, he said, it was the best thing for him because it gave him time to heal and acclimate himself to college ball.
"Consistency has been the big thing for me since coming to college," Singer said. "Just learning to throw for strikes over and over without losing velocity. After that, it's all about work ethic. You have to establish a routine because if you're not working toward your goal, someone else is and they'll take your opportunity."
Gouldsmith said Singer fell off UNLV's radar after his injury but showed the Rebels he had the right attitude and character by showing up at their camp the following school year ready to earn a spot on the roster.
"Stephen is a tremendous young man," Gouldsmith said. "He's not just a guy with a lot of potential as far as baseball is concerned; he's also a great person. I give him credit for coming out and making sure we kept him on our map. We're hoping it all pays off for him."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or [email protected].