After having his best showing of the season in the postseason as a freshman, Christian County’s Elijah Underhill was poised to have a breakout year for the Colonels as a sophomore.
However, COVID-19 had other plans, canceling that spring season.
“It hurt us,” Underhill said. “The seniors we had going into that year, I really wanted to play with them.
I felt like that was going to be a big year for me. It was the year where I was going to show the whole state what I could do. I feel like my sophomore year would’ve been really big.
Coming out and throwing in the regional tournament and putting his name on the radar, Underhill’s sophomore year was set to be big in his development for the future, as he was going to get a lot of reps both on the mound and in the field.
Underhill hit the gym and transformed himself to prepare for his junior year when the season was canceled.
“I worked every day,” Underhill said. “In practice, I gave it my all and after practice, I stayed in and hit to make sure I was good and I stayed focused throughout the entire season.”
It was Underhill’s ability on the field, combined with his growing leadership skills that made him the 2021 Planters Bank Kentucky New Era baseball Athlete of the Year.
As a sophomore, Underhill was going to be able to learn more about being a leader and that was supposed to get him ready to lead as an upperclassman.
With his sophomore year gone and a smaller senior class ahead of him, the junior was thrown into the fire and asked to be a leader for the Colonels.
“It was a lot for me — I was nervous about being a leader for this team,” he said. “I’ve always looked up to the kids when I was a freshman like Lane (Diuguid). I feel like I’m doing pretty good and helping out my team and being there if they need me.”
He then transferred the work ethic that he had throughout the canceled year and summer onto the team.
The young Colonels went to work with Underhill, taking every opportunity to improve they could, which surely will pay dividends for new coach Cole Isom in the future.
“I made sure we’re staying after practice to keep getting extra swings in,” he said. “We have to stay focused because this district thinks we’re young and don’t feel like we’re going to do a lot. Like last year, we’re going to show them differently.”
In the postseason, much like he did as a freshman, Underhill saved his best performance for when it was needed most.
With a trip to the Second Region Tournament on the line against University Heights Academy, Underhill threw 6.2 innings, allowed just four hits and one unearned run, while striking out 15 batters, helping County take a 2-1 victory over the Blazers.
“I made sure I stayed locked in,” Underhill said. “I talked to my coaches and they told me to stay calm and do what I do best. That’s what I did. I showed up and I delivered.”
While his last start against Henderson County in the Second Region Tournament didn’t go as well, Underhill has already put that behind him and is already set on making his senior year the best he’s had in a Christian County uniform.
“I’m trying to put on more weight so I can hit the ball harder and farther, as well as throw a lot harder,” he said. “I’m keeping my arm in shape, hitting the weights every day and doing everything I can to be bigger, faster and stronger.”