THE GRIND: West Forsyth pitcher Hank Flood
Over the past year, Hank Flood has played the most baseball of his life. It’s turned out to be one of the best things to happen to him.
Flood had played football at West Forsyth through his junior year, but when Kiernen Hamilton moved into town and snapped up the Wolverines’ starting quarterback spot, Flood decided to shift his focus solely to baseball.
That’s not to say there weren’t benefits to avoiding the single-sport specialization that so many coaches decry today, but Flood knew it was time for a change.
“I never got too keyed in on one sport, and it kept me fresh in whatever sport I was playing,” he said. “It was good until it obviously wasn’t good anymore.”
Flood played baseball all summer and fall, and he’s seen the benefits in his on-field performance and his recruiting stock.
The senior is weighing offers from North Georgia and Georgia State as a two-way player, but he saw his pitching ability improve significantly with his new year-round schedule.
“I really sharpened up everything I do,” Flood said. “I’m no longer out here throwing anymore; I’m out here pitching.”
Flood felt his demeanor and body language improve and was less affected by emotion. His confidence improved. He controlled the running game and could focus better.
“I was able to just focus more on the pitch and worry less about the outcome,” he said.
The senior likes to model himself off of Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. Flood isn’t a flamethrower with an imposing frame like the six-time All-Star, but he tries to be unpredictable with his pitch selection and use any pitch in any count.
Playing so much baseball, between his time with West and that on his travel clubs, the Georgia Jackets and Mission Team, has put the game in a different light for Flood. He’s seen more and experienced more, which helps keep him calm and collected, although he still gets butterflies lining up for the national anthem before the game.
“I approach everything with a little different mindset now,” Flood said. “I’m not so much worried about what happens in one at-bat or one outing. I look at it more from a big-picture standpoint. I think summer and fall baseball helped me learn that there’s always another opportunity.”
Technically, Flood isn’t a single-sport athlete. He likes to ski, regularly traveling with his family to Colorado in the winter, and hunt, which he could do more of in the fall without football clogging up his schedule.
He’s also an avid fisherman, and as disparate as fishing and baseball can be, Flood sees a connection between the two pastimes: Patience, whether it be casting a reel to the same spot or sticking with an approach on the mound or batter’s box through the day-to-day unpredictability of the game.
“When something’s not necessarily going my way, I know I can just push through it and wait for it to get better,” Flood said.