ALBANY -- Jody Sellars' baseball career since 2006 has included both mental and physical challenges.
A redshirt junior pitcher at Georgia Southwestern, Sellars constantly deals with the ramifications of falling behind in the count.
"It's a lot harder for someone to hit 0-2 than 2-0," he said Thursday.
Physically, Sellars' left arm is not only healing from Tommy John surgery four years ago, he's also re-learning simple pitching mechanics.
"Once I came back from surgery, I learned my mechanics were never there to begin with," Sellars laughed.
On paper, it appears Sellars is making some strides as he has the Hurricanes' best pitching record at 5-2, including two complete games. His ERA of 4.68, however, shows he is looking for that consistency on the mound, one that will keep hitters off-balance with his array of pitches ranging from a fastball to change-up.
Sellars, who was part of Southland Academy's 2004 GISA Class AAA championship team, is proud not only of his record on the mound, but his team's record overall (19-12). That marks the program's best start since making the move from NAIA to NCAA Division II in 2007, though the Hurricanes had to wait a year to be taken off the D-II provisional list (2008-09) so it could begin competing for championships in the Peach Belt Conference and the NCAA. In fact, the Hurricanes notched their first D-II national ranking last week in school history at No. 30, but were dropped in the most recent poll released Tuesday following a three-game skid.
Sellars originally signed with Georgia College & State, but after being redshirted due to his surgery, he moved closer to home. That move did not help at first, however, when he went 1-2 his redshirt freshman year and 2-2 last year.
This season, however, Sellars started fast -- and hasn't slowed down, winning his first four decisions.
"Jody is just a tremendous competitor," GSW coach Bryan McLain said. "He works extremely hard. After he had Tommy John surgery two years ago, he has just done a tremendous job to get where he is now."
Tearing his left unal collateral ligament before his senior season at Southland, Sellars withstood the year by throwing in relief and electing to have surgery after the season.
"It's been a rough one," Sellars said. "It's tough. It really took a while for me to get my control back. Accuracy and control is everything. It was a re-learning process."
Sellars' success this year, meanwhile, is dictated by how his fastball works.
"Early in the year, my fastball was on," Sellars said. "But during the last two weekends (a no-decision outing vs. Flagler and allowing six earned runs in a loss against GCSU last weekend), I simply got behind in the count. My goal is to get the batter out in three pitches or less, but that hasn't been the case the past couple of weekends. I am still trying to figure things out.
"I'm not a big strikeout guy. I don't have a large number of strikeouts (with just 26) this year. I just get the ball into the strike zone and try to make them have weak contact with the ball and let the defense do its work."
And these days, Sellars said he doesn't worry about his arm anymore.
Just the next game.
"I don't really think about it," said Sellars, whose team returns to action today against Lander, though he won't pitch again until Saturday's Game 2 of the series. "In my mind, I'm the same person. It was just a minor setback."