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Clarion-Limestone’s Huwar Channels Early Rejection into Division I Baseball Opportunity

Friday, January 21, 2022 @ 08:01 AM

Posted by Mike Kilroy

IMG_1296STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Bryson Huwar was told he just wasn’t good enough.

It devastated the young baseball player growing up in Fisher. Huwar, 10 years old at the time, got his first real taste of painful rejection.

And, it was bitter.

(Pictured above: Bryson Huwar signs his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at St. Bonaventure University. He is flanked by his parents, Bryan and Liz. Standing behind him, from left are: Clarion-Limestone High School principal Mel Aaron, Lions’ baseball coach Todd Smith, and C-L athletic director Brad Frazier.)

“I got really upset about that,” Huwar said. “I was crying.”

Dejected, Huwar decided to do something about it.

“My grandpa told me, ‘Just keep going. You’re gonna be better than all these kids,’” Huwar said. “I ended up practicing and practicing and practicing, and I’m never satisfied with myself. I just kept working hard.”

All that work has paid off.

No one is doubting Huwar’s baseball skills these days.

The senior pitcher/designated hitter for the Clarion-Limestone baseball team has put up gaudy numbers throughout his career. Last year was undoubtedly his best.

Huwar was 5-1 with a minuscule 0.91 ERA. He struck out 52 and walked just nine in 30 1/3 innings.

At the plate, Huwar batted .596 with two home runs, 10 doubles, and 14 RBI in 47 at-bats. He struck out just three times and drew 10 walks.

He was the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference MVP in 2021.

In his career — which is only two seasons because his sophomore campaign was wiped out by COVID-19 — he is 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA and 95 strikeouts. At the plate, he has a career average of .479 with 20 doubles and 20 RBI.

Not bad for someone who was left at home during a travel ball season when he was younger, and who struggled with two wobbly knees for most of his life.

“When he was in the ninth grade, he was a good pitcher and a leader for us,” said Clarion-Limestone baseball coach Todd Smith. “But, last year the season and the numbers that he put up…that really put him on the map.”

And, college baseball programs took notice.

Suddenly, Huwar had a difficult — but welcome — choice to make. The kid that no travel team wanted had a number of collegiate baseball suitors.

He ultimately chose Division I St. Bonaventure University in New York over Merrimack College near Boston and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools California University and Mercyhurst University.

Huwar signed his letter of intent on Wednesday morning to play for the Bonnies.

“It’s a relief,” Huwar said of signing. “I’ve been looking for a place to call home for a couple of years now. Seeing all my friends who I play travel ball with commit, I’m really glad to finally get this done and show everyone I could do it and that I did it.”

St. Bonaventure sees Huwar as a pitcher, and he could see some time on the mound right away because of his unique delivery and eclectic array of pitches.

Huwar delivers from three different arm slots: over the top, side-arm, and, at times, submarine.

“He throws in the mid- to high-80s and throws from those three different arm slots. So, especially the first time around the lineup, it’s really tough for the hitters,” Smith said. “That’s why I think he’d be a very valuable reliever.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander has mastered those different deliveries over the years.

He began tinkering with pitching at a variety of slots when he was a kid and got better and better at harnessing his stuff and control.

It multiplies how many pitches he can truly throw.

With his standard delivery, he throws a curveball, slider, changeup, split-finger, and four-seam fastball. Sidearm, he features a two-seam fastball, changeup, and slide. And submarine, he can attack the strike zone with a two-seamer, changeup, and sweeping slider.

All those pitches look different depending on his arm slot.

It makes for a maddening day at the plate for batters who square off against Huwar.

“One of my instructors who started me out and helped a lot with it was Jay Fennell,” Huwar said. “He helped me develop the sidearm.”

Armed with that kind of repertoire, Huwar’s biggest goal is to get stronger in the weight room and improve his velocity.

“I think I’m going to be touching (90 mph) this year,” Huwar said.

The giddy-up on his fastball figures to improve even more when he gets to St. Bonaventure, too.

Smith said he thinks Huwar is just beginning to harness what he can do on the baseball field.

“I think it’s a combination of his talent, his work ethic, and, really, his family’s commitment to travel all over the place and play summer ball,” Smith said. “He’s done that for the past few years, and he’s been seen by a lot of people traveling all over the United States to pitch. That’s a big factor in him being able to get this opportunity.”

So was making the most out of a bad situation.

After a breakthrough freshman campaign, Huwar was eager to see what he could do during his sophomore season. But, the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled all spring high school sports in the state in 2020.

He turned that into a positive.

The lost season actually afforded Huwar, who is also a basketball player at Clarion-Limestone, the chance to have surgery to shore up the patellar tendons in both knees.

The surgeries were a success.

“I missed my whole junior year of basketball,” Huwar said. “That was unfortunate. But, I’ve been able to play basketball now. (My knees) are a lot better. They were pretty messed up. They were pretty bad. They’re good now.”

That has also paved the way for Huwar’s bright baseball future ahead at St. Bonaventure.

“It’s the right fit for me,” Huwar said. “It’s small with only 2,000 students, and I like that. The coaches were really nice, and their facilities are great. It’s also close enough to home that I can still have my family around.”

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