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Hard work pays dividends for Mt. Spokane ace Drew Rasmussen

Mt. Spokane fireballer Drew Rasmussen barely lets the batter get set before he delivers a fastball that jumps off his hand and pops in the catcher’s mitt.

Pitching on a blustery Friday that included a shower of rain mixed with sleet, Rasmussen served a fastball to Rogers hitter Evan Norden, who jumped on it and drove it over the center fielder’s head for a stand-up double.

“I told my guys, you will never see a guy that throws 91 in high school,” Rogers coach Jim Wasem said. “That hit could be the highlight of Norden’s career if (Rasmussen) gets to the pros.”

The initial success didn’t last for the Pirates as Mt. Spokane raced to a 14-1 blowout behind Rasmussen’s overpowering fastball, which he almost unfairly mixed with an occasional slider.

The Wildcats senior, who has already committed to pitch for Oregon State, also showed flashes of his all-around talent. Later in the game, while playing third base, Rasmussen ranged far to his left and picked up a grounder in front of the shortstop and gunned the ball to first for an out.

But his best highlight came with a bat.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder led off the fourth inning and Rogers relief pitcher Lysle Humphrey hung a curveball that Rasmussen simply crushed.

He drove the ball deep into left-center field, where the ball cleared a 32-foot retaining net, landed on Helena Street and bounced out of sight along Longfellow Avenue.

“He’s a really good player,” Mt. Spokane coach Alex Scheurman said. “But he’s the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached. He’s worked hours, hours and hours to get better.”

Except for the fact that Rasmussen is a right-hander, Schuerman said Rasmussen has many similarities to left-handed submariner Justin Blatner, who is the reigning GSL most valuable player for Gonzaga Prep.

“They play together in the summer,” Schuerman said. “I’d say Drew throws a little harder.”

Rasmussen said he and Blatner, who has committed to play for Gonzaga University, throw at about the same velocity.

“To his face, I might tell him I that I’m better,” Rasmussen said. “But he’s a great player.”

Schuerman first noticed Rasmussen as an 8-year-old who started coming to baseball camps. “Now, he’s a beast,” he said.

As a sophomore, Rasmussen pitched his way into becoming the Wildcats’ No. 3 starter. “Then he throws a shutout to advance us to the state tournament,” Schuerman said. “He wasn’t the pitcher he is now.”

In 2013, Rasmussen became Mt. Spokane’s ace and went 7-0 in the GSL.

During the summer, he started hitting the low 90s with his fastball and college recruiters, including those from Gonzaga, Washington, Washington State and Oregon, started lining up to talk to him.

“Corvallis was just the place I liked the most,” he said.

Rasmussen said the Beavers are looking mostly for his arm, despite his ability to play the field and punish the baseball with a bat.

“Unfortunately, the speed is not quite there,” he said with a smile.

After the drubbing of Rogers, the Mt. Spokane players started gathering equipment to leave. But Rasmussen went out to the outfield to run extra laps to get his “work” in before calling it an afternoon.

“When he’s on the mound,” Schuerman said, looking over his shoulder, “it makes my job a little easier.”