RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- One of the biggest question marks for the Wolf Pack baseball team this season, was who would fill the shoes of Braden Shipley. Shipley was one of the best pitchers in Nevada history, and a first-round draft pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013.
After a trial-and-error period by the new Nevada coaching staff, that pitcher has emerged. It's a name you will be hearing a lot over the next two seasons: Michael Fain.
Packing low-to-mid 90's heat at 6-6, Fain is the new Wolf Pack ace, and he is sporting one of the best ERA's in the conference. A year ago, he was thrown into the fire as a freshman closer. One year later, he is usually matched up with some of the best arms in the Mountain West, a challenge he has readily embraced.
"It's a pretty cool feeling knowing the guy I'm sharing the mound with is probably going to be drafted pretty high at the end of the year," said Fain.
He still has about 14 months until he will be eligible for the Major League draft, but by that point, the competition will likely be giving the same high praise about Fain.
"(Fain) definitely has a future in baseball after the University of Nevada, for sure," said Dave Lawn.
Lawn, the new Wolf Pack pitching coach, would know a thing or two about Major League talent. He helped tutor the likes of Mark Prior and Ian Kennedy during his time at USC. With Lawn's experience at his side, Fain has all the confidence that he can succeed at the next level.
"I definitely feel like if I keep doing what I've been doing, hitting my spots, reaching my full potential, that I could (pitch at the next level)," said Fain.
For now, Lawn will continue to help Fain, who said closing last year has helped ease the pressure of being the staff ace. "It definitely got me used to where I wasn't nervous anymore, always coming in in tight situations, and now this year, I hardly don't feel any pressure at all."
"It's a byproduct of his experience and his past experience. And the curveball...and the changeup," said Lawn.
Not just any curveball and change up. When Fain has both of those pitches going, he can be nearly untouchable. "I've always gotten away with pretty much just throwing hard in the past. This year, I've gotten alot of success from actually pitching, working down hill, hitting my spots, and just the strategy that comes alot with it."
As Fain continues to refine his craft, Lawn said as long as he maintains an attitude of wanting to get better, when he adds weight, his stuff will become even more explosive. "It's a body that can probably handle another twenty pounds, and when that happens you'll probably see a little more juice on the fastball and you'll see a little more bite with the breaker."