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Bodendorf to take mound for 'Bows on opening night

Feb. 14—Harrison Bodendorf will be the lead slinger when the Hawaii baseball team opens its season against Ole Miss on Friday at Les Murakami Stadium.

Harrison Bodendorf will be the lead slinger when the Hawaii baseball team opens its season against Ole Miss on Friday at Les Murakami Stadium.

"Great kid, great character, " UH coach Rich Hill said, "very soft-spoken, easy-going dude. You put him on the mound, he gets after it, man. He's just like a tiger. He's our opening-day starter."

As a freshman in 2023, the left-handed Bodendorf was a swing pitcher, appearing twice in a series six times. In 21 appearances, Bodendorf was 5-2 with five saves and a 3.45 ERA. In his final five games, he allowed one earned run in 14 innings. He finished the season averaging 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Hill said it was difficult to move Bodendorf from a multiple-situational role. "I think once a weekend, for his own personal development, it's definitely better for us as a ballclub moving forward to have him in that Friday-night slot, " Hill said. "It gives us a chance every Friday. I think he's one of the best pitchers in the country."

Last year's series-opening starter, Harry Gustin, was the San Diego Padres' 18th-round selection in the 2023 draft.

Bodendorf welcomes drawing the ace's role.

"It's special, " he said. "It's something you've worked toward. Every pitcher wants to be the Friday guy and have a chance to do that for the team. It's pretty special."

After throwing 792 pitches in 571 /3 innings last year, Bodendorf opted not to play summer ball. Instead, he contacted his pitching coach at Temecula Valley High. Chris Hyndman helped Bodendorf choose a grip to work on developing a slider.

Bodendorf relied heavily on a fastball and changeup last year. "I could throw a slider every once in a while, but it wasn't consistent, " he said. "It wasn't like an everyday thing. I wanted to be a starter. That was my goal coming into this year. You kind of need a third pitch. I spent a lot of time trying to find that slider."

During fall training, Bodendorf used the slider on leverage counts of 0-2 and 1-2. "Things like that trying to get confidence, " he said.

With improved command, he now can throw the slider on any count. "And have that good feel for it, " he added.

The slider is another similarity between Bodendorf and Chris Sale of the Atlanta Braves. Sale is known for his "condor " motion. The resemblance was apparent in side-by-side videos, including one produced by journalist Reece Nagaoka last year.

"Before I saw the comparisons and saw the side-by-side, I didn't even realize it was similar to Chris Sale's, " Bodendorf said. "It wasn't something I was trying to do. It ended up being that way, "

Bodendorf said being named Friday's starter enables him to prepare exclusively for an assignment. As the swing pitcher, he had to adapt to whether he would be used or not used during each game of a series. "It definitely changed my preparation, " Bodendorf said. "I have more of a set routine."