Athlete of the Week (3/14-3/21) Q & A: Tim Willittes
Each week, BRSN sits down for a Q & A session with the BRSN Athlete of the Week. This week, we caught up with Athlete of the Week junior Cornell baseball pitcher Tim Willittes following his terrific outing against Bucknell before spring break. Willittes tossed eight scoreless innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts to lead the Big Red to a 5-2 victory on Saturday, March 19.
BRSN: Tim, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You had a career-high 13 strikeouts and threw for eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. What was working for you against Bucknell?
TW: Thanks Aaron. I felt good on the mound [Saturday, March 19], and fastball command was big for me. I was able to throw my fastball to both sides of the plate and execute my off-speed pitches in different counts.
BRSN: Your 13 strikeouts were the most by a Cornell pitcher since 2003 and also brought your season total to 27 (now 31). How have you been able to demonstrate such control so far this year?
TW: Pitching ahead in the count has been crucial. It helps me establish a rhythm and get to two strikes, so I can execute a quality two-strike pitch.
BRSN: You’ve established yourself as an early reliable contributor in the rotation with 25.2 innings pitched, already more than your career total. What did you focus on improving in your game during the offseason, and what was your mentality coming into this year?
TW: This offseason has been big in my preparation for the spring. I focused a lot on consistency in my delivery and release point. As far as mentality, the coaching staff has done a great job of communicating our team goals and the expectation to win every time we step on the field. This has made things simple for myself and the rest of the guys. We know what to expect of ourselves and each other, so we can go out and play our game.
BRSN: This group possesses some solid talent and has shown promise in the early season. What are both the team’s expectations moving forward and your personal goals for the remainder of the spring?
TW: Our expectation is to play baseball to our standards. We focus on what we can control and work hard every day in pursuit of an Ivy League title. My goal is to go out and compete every time I step on the mound.
BRSN: What are some of your interests outside of baseball?
TW: When I’m not at the ballpark or in the library, I’m usually spending time relaxing and readying myself for what’s ahead. Nonetheless, I have always had a recreational interest in flying. When I’m home in Arizona between semesters, I fly gas powered R/C model airplanes at an airpark designed for planes this size. I want to get my hands on a R/C quadcopter with an attached camera. Aerial photography is one of the newer applications of R/C flight that I think is really cool.
BRSN: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you that you would like to share with fans of Cornell and, more specifically, Big Red baseball?
TW: When I speak with people off the field, I have a fairly calm and relaxed demeanor, but when the game starts, it’s on. It’s me and the guys on the field versus [the batter]. Our whole team has been working extremely hard every day this year, and we couldn’t be more excited about our ability to do great things this spring.