Not far from home

Junior pitcher commits to Nebraska Baseball


Photo Courtesy of Sam Novotny Twitter (@samnovotny45)

When Novotny committed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to play college baseball, he knew it would be one of the biggest decisions of his life. He wanted to go to a college where he would be able to grow as a baseball player as well as a student as well. “Picking my college was definitely a big decision,” pitcher Sam Novotny said. “I think that I like Nebraska so much because I like the big campus. I also like their business building and program.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

When then freshman Sam Novotny walked into Millard West just three years ago, he didn’t know what to expect. He was unsure how he would stack up to the long list of players that wanted to compete on the baseball team. One thing he did know, however, was that Millard West has one of the best baseball programs in the state, and it would be a tough battle to compete at the varsity level.

Novotny’s freshman year he played on the junior varsity spring and summer team for coach Shawn Juricek. During Novotny’s sophomore year he played for the Nebraska Prospects. Over the course of the summer season, Novotny started five games and had an overall record of 4-0 with one no decision. Over the course of his 25 innings pitched, he had 41 strikeouts as well as a 1.37 ERA (earned run average). He has now begun his junior year and is looking forward to playing under varsity head coach Steven Frey this season as well as furthering his baseball development. 

Although Novotny still has two full seasons of high school play to go, he has already committed to college as a pitcher. Novotny was in contact with a variety of schools in many locations and conferences. The schools he was looking into were Butler University, Kansas State, Kansas University, Creighton and Nebraska. Out of these schools, Creighton and Nebraska were the only two to actually extend an offer to Novotny. Nebraska gave Novotny an offer in the late fall, and Creighton’s offer came in shortly after.

When it was all said and done, Novotny decided to stay close to home and accept an offer to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he announced his decision on his Twitter account on October 19.

“I think the biggest pull factors were that they have a new staff and the head coach Will Bolt, and the pitching coach Jeff Christy both played for UNL in college,” Novotny said. “Most of my conversations were with coach Christy, and I really like his pitching philosophy, and I think that he can get me to the next level pitching-wise.”

Novotny has grown a lot as a pitcher throughout high school. He has gained a lot of speed on each of his pitches. However, he gets a majority of his outs by locating his pitches extremely well and forcing a lot of weak contact. His fastball comes in the mid-80s, with a good curveball and changeup as well.

“He has always had a good changeup,” junior Mason Koch said. “Through his high school career, he has gained velo[city] and has a ton of control now with every pitch.”

Throughout the course of his high school career Frey helped Novotny better himself as a pitcher as well as be there to provide useful information in picking a college to play at. Frey believes Novotny has a long baseball career ahead of him, he predicts that Novotny will have a strong college career as well as an opportunity to play beyond that. 

“I think he can definitely play after [college] as long as he stays healthy,” Frey said. “He’s got that frame where he has a decent height with room to grow. Right now, in his development, he’s further along than a lot of high school pitchers are and if he keeps improving the sky’s the limit for him.”

Novotny still has two full seasons of high school ball to play and has many goals for these years. Primarily, he wants to help Millard West capture a second and third championship, after Millard West won its first title in 2019. He also wants to further develop into the best pitcher he can possibly be by the time he gets to college. In college, Novotny hopes to become an elite pitcher and help Nebraska win ball games.