As of Saturday, June 30, 2012
Miles Manning's determination shouldn't be obscured by his demeanor.
Manning rarely shows emotion on the field, but has a burning desire to succeed.
"I don't expect anybody to get a hit off of me, but when they do it doesn't bother me," he said. "It's the next batter and get him out. I feel like I should get a hit every time. When I don't, I'm mad but I'm not like going to throw stuff or anything."
Manning admits he wasn't always so unflappable.
"Whenever I was little, I would get mad," he said. "I would cry every time I struck out. If we lost, I would cry. Now, nothing bothers me."
Manning's transformation began when he started playing select ball at the age of 12.
"Every day when my dad would come home, I would want to go throw," Manning said. "I've been like that since I was in Little League.
"I played during the summer against the best people in Houston," he added. "I knew I could play with them."
Manning continued to progress, making the varsity as a sophomore at Memorial before playing two seasons at Victoria West.
He pitched and played the infield for the Warriors and helped lead them to an undefeated District 30-4A season and into the area playoffs as a senior.
He will continue his baseball career next season at Sam Houston State University and will do so as the Most Valuable Player on the Victoria Advocate's 2012 All-Area Baseball Team.
"He's got a lot of talent," said Victoria West coach Manuel Alvarado. "Going to the next level is going to make him that much better. It will push him to be the best he can be. He wants to be the best and he works hard at it."
Manning knew he would have to carry a large share of the load for the Warriors this season and he responded on the mound, in the field and at the plate.
He had a 9-2 pitching record and 2.31 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings.
He hit .507 with four home runs, one triple, 12 doubles and 27 RBIs. He had a fielding percentage of .932.
"I'd rather play the infield, but if they need me to pitch, I'll pitch," Manning said. "I just thought if I pitched like I did last year it would be good."
Manning pitched a one-hitter as a sophomore in the bi-district playoffs against San Antonio Clark, and struck out the side with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning as a junior to preserve a one-run win in West's debut at Bay City.
He allowed only one run and six hits and had four strikeouts in the Warriors' 1-0 area playoff loss to Corpus Christi Calallen this season.
"There wasn't too much to say to him," Alvarado said. "I let him pitch his game. He called his own games most of the time. I pretty much left him alone."
The same was true at the plate where Manning led the team in home runs and RBIs.
"The kid has quick hands and a good eye at the plate," Alvarado said. "There are times at batting practice when I would think I could get a pitch by him and the next thing I know it's coming back at me."
Manning was disappointed the Warriors weren't able to advance deeper in the playoffs in a season that was marred by the death of teammate Austin Davis.
"It was hard," said Manning, who hit a grand slam after a memorial service for Davis proceeded West's 13-5 win over Gregory-Portland. "We're all real close."
Manning will play with the Houston Baseball Academy select team this summer before reporting to Sam Houston State in late August.
He's excited about the challenges awaiting him in Huntsville.
"During the summer, I play against the top people in the nation," Manning said. "On my team, we have the No. 1 shortstop in the country so I'm not even the best player on my team so I'm used to that already. It makes me want to work harder to be like them."