ST. PETERSBURG — On certain days, Marc Brakeman takes center stage as one of Shorecrest's starting pitchers.
Most days, though, he works behind the scenes as the Chargers' starting catcher.
Brakeman has done plenty of winning in his years with Shorecrest, whether he has been on the mound or behind the plate. After all, the Chargers (21-8) are in the playoffs for the fifth time in the past six seasons (the third time in Brakeman's career). But they are in the region finals for the first time since 1999.
That has a lot to do with Brakeman, a sophomore who has rapidly become one of Shorecrest's most versatile — and valuable — players.
"Marc is someone who has worked real hard and made a lot of improvements the past few years," Chargers coach Don Reed said. "He definitely is someone we can count on in either position."
Brakeman has always been a pitcher. Using his fastball and curveball, he finds a batter's weak spot and throws right at it nearly every time. He has 95 strikeouts and a 1.44 ERA in 631/3 innings.
"I think I've done pretty well pitching except for maybe a few moments this season," Brakeman said. "I basically try to stay pretty even on the mound."
But Brakeman is just as valuable in the other position he plays.
The catcher is the only player who can see the entire field. Catchers call the pitches, keep runners in check, help position the defense and take turns at bat. Add it all up and they have more impact on the game than any other position player.
Brakeman has earned that responsibility. He has learned the finer points of the position from Reed since the seventh grade.
He is second on the team in batting average at .382, and his defense continues to improve.
"Marc has done a phenomenal job at getting better behind the plate," Reed said.
Reed has plenty of pitchers at his disposal for Friday's region final at Bishop McLaughlin.
Brakeman could get the start. But if he doesn't start, he will still have a vital role calling pitches instead of throwing them.