Shea Delivering for Deep Dish
By Jimmy Lynn
Austin Shea of the Chicago Deep Dish has exhibited poise and control while pitching in the 2020 City of Champions Cup. The right-hander credits an unlikely tool—his notebook in the dugout—for his mental edge on the mound this summer.
“If you ever see me taking notes in between innings when I’m pitching, I’m just writing down my goals for the next inning,” Shea said. “Like ‘break my hands earlier’ or ‘under 15 pitches’—just simple stuff that I can achieve.”
Shea has likely been successful in achieving many of those notebook goals this summer. He leads Deep Dish pitchers so far in wins (4) and strikeouts (29). Shea explained that varying his pitch sequences has been a major factor to his strong start to the season.
“I’ve been throwing my fastball, slider and changeup, just trying to keep it random,” Shea said. “If I throw a ball with one pitch, I’ll probably throw it again because that’s what the batter is least expecting.”
Shea has had the opportunity to receive feedback on his pitching from multiple coaches. In addition to his Deep Dish coaching staff, led by former Major Leaguer Glenallen Hill, Shea has been living and training with his former college coaches.
“My college coaches from [Toccoa Falls College], Jeff Mullikin and TJ Lanning, actually coach up here now at Olivet Nazarene University, so I’ve been staying with them,” Shea said. “They’ve been coming out to my games and helping me train, so it’s been a really cool opportunity. It’s kind of like having a second family out here.”
Shea played at Toccoa Falls in Georgia for four years, developing a strong connection with Mullikin and Lanning. He trusts his former coaches’ advice, knowing that they understand him as a pitcher from watching him play over multiple college seasons.
“I’ve pitched in front of them for years, so they can see what’s working,” Shea said. “And if I mess something up, they can help me fix it before my next start.”
Bolstered by Shea’s pitching, the Deep Dish have won five of their last seven games after an uneven start to the season. Shea explained that improved team dynamics have been key to the Deep Dish’s recent surge.
“You can definitely see that guys are more loose and more familiar with each other in practice,” Shea said. “From the first couple weeks to the last couple weeks, there’s been a big change in our team’s chemistry.”
For a pitcher like Shea, one of the most important relationships to form is with his team’s catchers. Shea has developed strong connections with Deep Dish backstops Erik Ostberg and Marcus Mastrobuoni, and he has reaped the benefits of those connections on the mound.
“It’s crazy—there’s been times where I’m saying, ‘Okay, I want to throw this pitch, but [Ostberg] is probably not going to call it,’ and then he puts down the same sign,” Shea said. “We’re just on the same page, pretty much for everything. So it’s been cool to have those professional catchers and to get feedback from them. I’ve never really had that before.”
Shea is scheduled to pitch next on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. Come to DuPage Medical Group Field to see if the Deep Dish ace can continue his impressive season with another strong start against the first-place Joliet Slammers!
About the Joliet Slammers:
The Joliet Slammers play at DuPage Medical Group Field in downtown Joliet Illinois. They are playing their 10th season in 2020. Visit the Slammers online at www.jolietslammers.com or call the office at 815-722-2287 for more information. Don’t forget to “Like” the Slammers on FAcebook at www.facebook.com/jolietslammers or follow them on Twitter at @jolietslammers and Instagram at @jolietslammersofficial
Joliet Slammers Contact:
Kaitlyn Altmann – Marketing & Promotions Manager