Nick Cauley was a major arm on a talented pitching staff for the Alton Redbirds during the 2015 season as a junior.
As a senior, AHS head coach Todd Haug is counting on the hard-throwing righty to anchor his staff in 2016. Now he can focus on that task after getting his college decision out of the way.
Recently Cauley verbally committed to pitch at Northwestern University in the Big Ten. Northwestern won out over Missouri State and Saint Louis University as the marquee destination.
“The baseball community here in Alton and Redbird baseball is very happy for him and very proud of him,” Haug said. “Nick is what you consider a self made man. He has cut no corners and he has turned himself into a very, very good pitcher.”
On top of being a talented baseball player, Cauley is one of the top students in his class academically, making Northwestern a perfect fit.
“It works to his baseball abilities on the mound, but also academics,” Haug said. “He's one of our top students in the 2016 class, so he is really the epitome of a student athlete. His decision was not just made on sports, not just academics, but a healthy combination of both.”
Cauley had his ups and downs as a junior. He finished the season 5-2 with a 4.71 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched. He threw in 13 games, starting seven and picking up one complete game.
His velocity reached the 90s on his fastball, but command was sometimes a factor on the mound. Haug said he's improved by leaps and bounds this summer playing with his select team the St. Louis Recruits.
“It's his opportunity to take over this staff,” Haug said about the Redbirds, who have won 20-plus games for five consecutive years, including a program-record 30 wins in 2015. “Nick has been hanging around the varsity for several years now and while his buddy Bryan Hudson didn't try to do it, he did cast a pretty big shadow. It was basically Bryan's pitching staff. It's Nick's time to take charge. He has all the capabilities in the world. His pitching has gone to a new level this summer. He's matured both physically and mentally and turned from a thrower into a pitcher. He's throwing multiple pitches for strikes and the velocity on the fastball has been as high as 93.”
Towards the close of the '15 campaign Cauley had to be shutdown due to a tender elbow, but Haug said that has been a non-factor during the summer. He's ready to go.
“He had tightness in his elbow and we just had to shut him down,” Haug said. “He was just getting tired and sore. It was almost a dead arm situation and we worried about his health because we want him to have a career long past us.
“He got the rest he needed and he picked right up where he left off in terms of ability wise this summer. He's had a tremendous summer.”
Having the decision out of the way early is nice and Haug credits that to his character.
“He's efficient, he gets to the point, knows what he wants and goes after it,” Haug said. “That's how he conducts business on and off the field.”