He loves the big stage.
When the games are the biggest, when the most is on the line, that’s when Callaway High pitcher Nick O’Berry wants the ball in his left hand.
“He loves it. That’s his life,” Callaway coach Dusty Hubbard said. “And he performs pretty well.”
O’Berry has had plenty of success in big games over the years, and one of his best moments came in 2012 when he threw a no-hitter in a playoff victory over Westminster.
Last year, in Game 3 of a playoff series against Southeast Bulloch, O’Berry pitched his team to a complete-game victory.
O’Berry has also gotten it done with a bat in his hand, and he’s been one of the team’s best hitters this season.
“The bigger the game, the more adrenaline you have,” O’Berry said. “That always helps me out.”
O’Berry is putting the wraps on what has been a phenomenal career for the Cavaliers.
On Friday, O’Berry will begin his final playoff run when Callaway host Central-Macon in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs.
Beginning the playoffs is “a great feeling,” according to O’Berry.
“You look forward to that last regular-season game,” he said. “It’s playoff time.”
O’Berry’s year began a bit slowly while he worked his way back into form following off-season shoulder surgery, but he’s ready to roll now.
In his most recent start, O’Berry threw a no-hitter in a 6-0 victory over Rockmart that wrapped up the Region 4-AAA championship.
O’Berry has thrown more and more as the season has progressed, and he ended up pitching 29 innings, and he has three wins and an exceptional 2.36 earned run average.
O’Berry will not only bring plenty of talent to the pitcher’s mound on Friday, but he’ll carry a fiery temperament as well.
Some players don’t show a whole lot of emotion when they’re playing, but O’Berry wears his passion on his sleeve.
He’ll pump his fist after a big strikeout, he’ll show his displeasure if he doesn’t get a strike call he felt he deserved, and he’ll occasionally talk to a player from an opposing team.
“He is a passionate individual,” Hubbard said. “I have to get on his butt three or four times a year. But you won’t find many that play harder than that rascal.”
O’Berry doesn’t shy away from showing his feelings on the field, but he also knows he can’t let his emotions get the best of him.
“It can either help me, or it can sink me,” O’Berry said. “I can’t let it affect me in a negative way. I show (emotion), I just try not to let it affect what I’m doing.”
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for O’Berry during his time at Callaway.
After a sensational sophomore season, O’Berry had another big season as a junior, but he pitched much of the spring with shoulder soreness.
He missed some time to give the shoulder a chance to rest, but when called upon, he was as good as ever.
When he was tasked by Hubbard to start Game 3 against Southeast Bulloch, he hadn’t started a game in two weeks, and he went out and threw seven dominant innings and the Cavaliers won 5-2.
After the season ended with a second-round loss to Dodge County, O’Berry had surgery to repair the shoulder.
By February he was pitching again, and now he’s as good as ever and ready to hopefully lead the Cavaliers deep into the playoffs.
The Cavaliers have had to overcome injuries to key players this season, but they’ve rolled to a 20-5 record that included a region championship.
“I think the adversity has got everybody so close,” O’Berry said. “We know everybody was going to have to be together. We’re a lot stronger as a team than we have been in the past. And we’ve got a lot of talent. It’s spread out. We’re ready.”