Culwell records 100 strikeouts for Van-Far, ready for more in his career

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 3/27/24

The more mileage Van-Far’s Reece Culwell has put on his arm, the better he has become.

The junior needed one game this season to record his 100th career strikeout in a tough 5-4 loss to …

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Culwell records 100 strikeouts for Van-Far, ready for more in his career


The more mileage Van-Far’s Reece Culwell has put on his arm, the better he has become.

The junior needed one game this season to record his 100th career strikeout in a tough 5-4 loss to Calvary Lutheran in Jefferson City last week. Culwell needed 10 to reach 100 and recorded 13 in 5⅔ innings while keeping walks at three, hits at two and earned runs at one.

The increased tendency for batters to whiff has been a big change for Culwell, he said, after playing baseball since he could pick up a ball. After some additional fine-tuning in travel ball, Culwell appears to be a No. 1 the Indians can rely on this season.

“That’s a huge accomplishment as I’ve been working at it for a while,” Culwell said. “I’ve been pitching my whole life, trying as hard as I can. I have a great travel ball coach that helps me get my velocity up and take care of my arm. As soon the pitch count’s up, I’m ready to go again.”

Culwell made a considerable jump already during his sophomore season, when he made the all-Eastern Missouri Conference team, striking out 60 batters to follow a 30-strikeout freshman year. He said the 13 strikeouts in his first outing this season is definitely one of the highest strikeout games of his career.

Still, Culwell knows that outing is just the start of what believes will be a good junior campaign and that can be assured from all of the work he has done long before the spring sports season. Instead of starting in the spring, he said he trains in the fall and even after the game is over to take care of his arm.

“My arm is pretty well-trained to go the distance,” Culwell said. “You’ve got to stretch out really well after you pitch, especially. I go home after I pitch, and I stretch out really well. There’s bands, there’s plyo balls that I do because you’ve got to get everything stretched out, especially after you pitch – heat, ice, all that stuff. There’s a work method to it to try to get your arm ready for the next time you can go.”

Van-Far head coach Cameron Huff said he isn’t surprised by all of the care Culwell puts into his craft. He said that work ethic is on full display to him and the team every day.

“He’s a natural-born leader,” Huff said. “He comes out to practice every day, ready to work. He takes charge, he shows whenever I ask, and I can change practice time and he’s always one of the first ones here.” 

Huff said Culwell is a good hitter as well, following a season with a .275 batting average and .431 on-base percentage and a 2-for-2 performance last week in Van-Far’s home-opening win against Missouri Military Academy.

If Culwell continues to pitch like he did at Calvary Lutheran, Huff said he won’t need to do too much at the plate since he is doing plenty already on the mound and he has good hitters around him. Culwell had two RBI in the 20-0 three-inning victory to impress Huff after an 0-for-2 night at Calvary Lutheran the previous night. 

“We talked before the game, and I told him to just relax at the plate and do what you know how to do,” Huff said. “‘I don’t need a home-run hitter. I don’t need a power hitter. I just need you to see the ball and hit the way you know how to hit.’”

Culwell is proud to carry on his family baseball bloodline as his father played and his brother, Treyson, had a good career at Van-Far. He said has reverence for his brother but also wants to get the better of him.

“I remember some of the things he did, and I’m like, ‘Oh, just being my older brother, I want to surpass that. I want to do better than he did,’” Culwell said. 

Of course, sibling rivalry isn’t Culwell’s only reason for his approach of “giving it my all” in his final two seasons. There’s also the uncertainty whether college baseball will even happen for him so Culwell wants those remaining miles on his arm to count.

The Van-Far program and what first-year head coach Cameron Huff has already done with it, increasing numbers from nine kids to 22 in one year, gives Culwell motivation in his goal to lead the Indians to way more victories than the three in his first two years. It’s the least he thinks he can do after the investment others have put into the program.

“Huff has really come in and stepped up,” Culwell said. “He’s worked with us since Jan. 1 — the first time we could do anything with baseball. We went three hours a week then so we went three hours to hit in the cage and try to get as many guys out as we can. He’s really stepping up and doing something here.”

Van-Far’s good start results in 8-6 win over Tuscumbia

Van-Far baseball was feeling good early in the game.

The Indians scored six runs in the first inning, and Gibson Condie struck out six in Van-Far’s 8-6 home victory over Tuscumbia on Friday.

Reece Culwell began the scoring with a two-RBI single before Malik Douglas, who scored on Culwell’s hit following a leadoff double, collected a RBI single later in the inning. Douglas finished 3-for-3 with three stolen bases and a RBI. Culwell went 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI, and Condie and Ronnie Stanich each had two RBI.

Tyson Douglas closed the game against Tuscumbia (1-3) on the mound for Van-Far (2-1) after the Indians added necessary insurance runs in the third and fifth innings. Stanich picked up both of those RBI.

Van-Far plays at 5 p.m. today at Hermann (1-4).