SYDNEY, 27 November - Sydney Blue Sox pitcher Chris Oxspring was named the Round Four Delta Airlines Pitcher of the Week after throwing 6 1/3 shutout innings and striking out 10 batters against the two-time defending champion Alcohol. Think Again Perth Heat in the Blue Sox 1-0 win.
On Thursday, 22 November, Oxspring shut out the Heat, who lead the league in batting average, while allowing just four hits in the process. The award marked the third time this season, in three appearances, that the Ipswich, QLD native has won the award. He is the first player to win the award three times in one season, and this is the fourth time in his career he has won the award.
"To be honest I've never had three weeks like I have to start off this season," Oxpsring said. "It's good to be throwing the ball well and I couldn't be happier with the way I'm throwing."
Oxspring won the award in Round One after throwing 7 1/3 innings against the Canberra Cavalry driven by Rolfe Renault, allowing just one run. In Round Two, the former Major Leaguer tied a league record when he struck out 14 Brisbane Bandits en route to pitching a complete game shutout in an 8-0 win.
The 35-year-old did not compete in the 'traditional' baseball season, which runs from February to September in 2012, rather staying in Australia and competing in winter leagues. Oxspring believes that staying in Australia has helped him lead the league in innings pitched (22 2/3) and strikeouts (31) without allowing a walk.
"If you look at how I've been playing, I think having the rest has helped," he said. "I played some outfield in the winter competition and I've done a fair bit of long toss to build up my arm strength which is paying off."
Oxspring has not allowed a run since the second inning of his season debut against Canberra, extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak to 22 1/3 innings pitched. While also serving as the team pitching coach, Oxpsring leads by example for a pitching staff that leads the league in ERA (2.20) and innings pitched (90) and has allowed the fewest walks (14.)
"Ox is like a fine wine, he gets better with age," Blue Sox manager Jason Pospishil said. "As a pitcher, he leads by example by attacking the hitters and throwing first-pitch strikes which is what we stress as a staff. As a coach, his experience in the Major Leagues and leagues around the world means he can help out in so many different ways, whether it's how to approach hitters or change mechanics."
For the season, Oxspring is 1-0 with a 0.40 ERA and has allowed just 14 hits. Last season, when he went 4-4, he struck out 45 hitters in 11 appearances, meaning through three starts he is just 14 strikeouts away from matching last season's total.
"I think he was a little disappointed with how he threw the ball last year," Pospishil said. "He had a really good offseason and spring training and it's certainly paying off now."
The Blue Sox return to action this Friday when they travel to take on the Brisbane Bandits. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.