06/16/17 — All Area -- Cody Whaley

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All Area -- Cody Whaley

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on June 16, 2017 7:25 AM

PIKEVILLE -- He greets you at the new gym door, speakeasy style, and lets you in with a soft-spoken hello.

Moments later, as Cody Whaley sits in a spare desk outside of Aycock's athletic department, a more complete view of the young right-hander enters frame.

There's the hair, a sweeping mop of jet black, that on most days is obscured by a powder blue ball cap. The rest of his frame, bulked up from a solid JV campaign, is strung in the fabric of an all-day, everyday baller -- T-shirt, workout shorts and sneakers.

He's recently returned from a stint at Liberty University, and speaks about its top-shelf facilities and the chance to work out for coaches at multiple positions. As the conversation drifts from Lynchburg to Pikeville to a summer full of showcase starts, the topic of his recent all-state selection comes to pass.

"I'd forgotten that was even a thing," he deadpans.

And it's with that remark you learn a lot about Whaley, the 2017 News-Argus All-Area Pitcher of the Year.

He deals in economic ways, man -- it's nothing personal.

As the old saying goes, subtle manners speak with confidence under pressure, and that's one of the reasons Whaley emerged as the area's top rotation regular this spring.

The other is the junk -- a seating-chart arsenal of pace and curvature that froze batters this spring with the cold calculus of a rattlesnake hymn.

Whaley's cache includes an arm-side heater and a true 12-six curve, both of which are effective in setting up, then sitting down, Aycock's opposition.

"He knows how to get hitters out," former skipper Charles Davis said. "And if you can stay ahead of hitters, then you've got a good chance to be successful -- and Cody was able to get ahead."

And further, stay there.

Over the course of an area-best 1,005 pitches this spring, the quick-working senior-to-be struck out 74 batters and issued just 20 walks -- or one every 50 pitches.

And the key to his success isn't found in some obscure mechanical secret, far-flung workout regimen or hard-to-stomach supplemental shake -- it's within.

"I like to get in my zone and get locked in, stay focused," Whaley said of his approach. "Whenever I'm pitching, I don't really talk much -- I just like to stay locked in and focused on what I'm doing."

Which, among other things, results in winning.

This offseason, much like the last, won't be spent basking in the compliments about his play on social media or those handed out by devout Aycock enthusiasts.

It will be spent in work mode, sunup to sundown, racking up starts when he can for various travel teams and developing in the weight room when he's not.

After all, it's an element central to his success.  

Over the last year -- a 12-month grind of  band work, lateral drills, squats, deadlifts, bench presses and cleans, Whaley developed true polish -- something he will need en masse next spring as Aycock's clear-cut No. 1 starter. 

Just don't expect him to get wound up by it all.

He'll likely be locked in, ready to send someone back to the dugout in a huff.