No matter where he pitches – or how he’s throwing – you can always count on Taran Oulton to log a lot of innings.
The Calgary-born lefty, who trained at Prospects Academy in St. Albert, recently wrapped up his senior year at William Woods University (WWU), where he set a new school record for complete games in a season.
One of those outings included an 11-inning outing against Columbia College on March 31st. Oulton pitched 10 innings of one-run ball in that game before surrendering two runs in the 11th. In total, he threw 151 pitches and faced 43 batters – striking out 10 of them – before he was tagged with the loss. Only two of the three runs Oulton gave up were earned in that contest.
Over the course of the season, the southpaw chewed up innings like Pac-Man gobbles up pellets. By the end of his 2019 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) campaign, Oulton registered 88.1 innings, 1,241 pitches, a 3.87 earned run average (ERA), 77 strikeouts and a 5-7 record for the Owls.
Since returning to the Edmonton Prospects of the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) for yet another summer season, Oulton has remained busy. Through four starts, he’s among the league leaders in innings pitched, with 25 frames under his belt, and the 6-foot-1 hurler has also racked up 20 strikeouts. Oulton was tasked with taking the mound for Edmonton’s home and season opener on May 25th, as well as the Dawgs’ home opener at Seaman Stadium on May 31st. And, yes, he does have a complete game already for the Prospects – a 14-3 win over Brooks on June 6th.
We caught up with Oulton in Okotoks recently for our latest edition of 7th Inning Stretch, which sees us pose seven questions to interviewees. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What was it like getting the ball for the season opener in Edmonton and getting the start against Okotoks for their home opener?
It’s good. I grew up playing against Okotoks, so I always want to start against them and get the W. I know they’re going to be a left-swinging team so I try to throw a lot of sliders and a lot of stuff away from them.
(RE/MAX Field) was awesome. We had a good crowd and they made me feel welcomed home when they introduced me … there was lots of applause.
2. How was your senior season with the WWU Owls? How do you reflect on your time there?
Basically, what I did is I tried to be as good of a team guy as I could. I didn’t look for strikeouts, I just looked to fill up the zone because walks only hurt us and I trusted my offence – sometimes they had me and sometimes they didn’t and that’s just baseball. I just do what I can control and it turned out to be a pretty good two years for me there.
3. Tell me about all the innings you pitched for the Owls. Does it bother you at all pitching that much or do you just love it?
I love it. I love it when they just want to send me back out there, even if I’m probably not supposed to, you know. It makes me feel like they have confidence in me and it gives myself confidence. It gives me a boost, gives me adrenaline so I can get the job done.
4. Do you have any concerns about the number of innings you’ll pitch in the WCBL after pitching that much in your other season? How do you approach this summer?
It’s guns out. I’m ready to throw out my arm for the boys, so I’m ready to throw as much as I can.
As far as I go, I just make sure I get my work in during the week and give my team the best chance to win and I know we have a lot of good guys who get their work in, too. They’re smart, they don’t screw around, so I know we’re going to have a strong staff and a strong offence. As long as we work hard I think we’ll be OK.
5. What’s it going to be like seeing former coach Ray Brown in an opposing dugout with Fort McMurray, and what’s it like having Jordan Blundell as your new head coach?
We definitely want to beat (Brown) now that he’s on the other side.
(Blundell) is awesome. Ray Brown was great but we kind of took away the age gap a little bit, so we get each other a little bit more. We’re on the same page with how we work and how we do things, so I guess the younger guys connect with him better than Ray Brown does. He’s a little more lenient.
6. There was a lot of turnover with the Prospects in the offseason. How has it been going with team bonding so far?
It’s good. We’ve got a tonne of new guys, so they’re all in the same Horizon dorm, so they all hang out and mesh really well. Us local kids, there’s a handful of local kids, so we all know each other, too. So, basically it’s the new guys and the local guys getting together and we’ll have a good team. We’ll be close.
7. A bit of a question out of left field to get to know your personality a bit: what’s your preferred movie, TV show, book or video game on the bus?
Entourage, the TV show. We watched that at William Woods all year … there’s lots of good shows but all of us were interested in it.