When a catcher calls a breaking ball during a baseball game, it is a moment of trust with his catcher. The ball has a chance of going into the dirt, and the pitcher is trusting that the catcher will be able to keep the ball in front of him.
For the Rapid City Post 320 pitching staff, Cam White has earned that trust.
White, who will be playing for Wayne State College in Nebraska next season, has been the primary catcher for the Stars all season, and has served the role of defensive field general, human wall and clutch hitter this season.
"It definitely has a big effect on breaking balls because you know those are the ones that are going to hit the dirt," Post 320 pitcher Brady Larson said. "To know that your catcher can block the pitches is a big help."
It's something that has come with work, White said, and knowing his pitchers well enough to know what they are going to do before they do it.
"Knowing your pitchers and knowing what their body movements are important because normally you can tell if a ball is going to be in the dirt," he said. "You make the assumption about where it’s going to go, and you throw your body in front of it."
What has also proved valuable for the Stars (22-7) this season is White's consistent, steady leadership.
Post 320 coach Paul Pool said knowing what to expect from a player every game is where he wants all of his team to be, and he thinks the Stars are getting there.
"He's always consistent, and he’s always going to have good at bats. He always gives you a chance," he said. "We're finally getting to the point where throughout the lineup, it doesn’t matter who is up there."
White has learned how to get in front of balls in the dirt over many years of being his team's backstop. He caught throughout Little League, and although he moved to second base the previous three seasons, he was back this year as the catcher.
The best moment behind the plate for White, however, isn't when he is blocking balls, but throwing them.
"I like throwing people out," he said. "I also like having the confidence that everyone will do their job, and they have the confidence in me to do my job, keep the ball in play. Everybody knows what they’re doing and everyone has confidence. We work as one unit."
Offensively, White has proven to be a valuable asset for the Stars as well, especially in the clutch.
He's hitting .333 with 30 hits this season, both third on the team behind Seth Brewer (.380, 41) and Connor Burgess (.449, 48), with 16 RBI.
This season he has delivered two walk-off hits (June 9 against Mandan, N.D. and May 7 against Cheyenne, Wyo.).
In those situations, White said a lot of thoughts go through his mind, but he always ends up finding a way to stay calm.
"You just kind of get into a zone, where you know you have to get a hit no matter what. You have your teammates behind you, so you go up there, you’re confident, and you know that you can do it," he said. "Those moments get tense, but it kind of calms down at the same time."
White is also responsible for relaying signals on defense for where certain fielders should play certain hitters. He's also in charge of calling the pitches every once in a while.
Pool said he calls most of the pitches from the dugout, but said he's gotten confident enough in White to give him the keys to the car in certain situations.
"Once you know that a kid understands how to evaluate hitters, you let them go a little bit," he said. "That’s part of being a catcher, and he does a good job with it."
Larson said he has started to put trust in his senior catcher to call the right pitch in the right situation. During the winter, he said most of the pitchers chose to trust White during their workouts, and that trust hasn't eroded over as the season drags on.
"In every spot, he’s good at picking between a fastball and a breaking ball," Larson said.
The most important stat to White, Larson and Pool is the number in the wins column, and after a 7-6 win against Sioux Falls Post 15 West Sunday in the Superior Siding Black Hills Classic, the Stars have won seven games in a row.
The lineup is hitting well and the pitchers are working well. White said life is good for Post 320 right now.
"We’ve really come together as a team the last couple of weeks," White said. "Two weeks ago we went to Pierre for the Border Battle and we struggled in the tough games. As you can see here, we’ve kind of found a way to make a win out of those tough games."
Post 320 is east for the Battle of Omaha. The tournament kicks off Thursday at 8 a.m. for the Stars against Omaha North.