Arizona Sports Network’s “Coach Pichotta” hit the bull’s eye when he predicted last spring that Payson High baseball player Nick McMullen “should be a dominant force as he moves forward.”
Only a junior and just 11 games into the 2013 season, McMullen is already setting big-time marks that are garnering the attention of coaches and pundits around the state.
At the plate this season, McMullen is hitting .500 with 16 hits in 32 at-bats. He’s also used his 6-foot, 5-inch, 225-pound frame for good power — slapping three doubles, two triples and four home runs.
His HR blasts are characteristically boomers that draw oohs and aahs from the crowd.
His home run mark ties him for second in Division III with Andrew Bryniarski of Fountain Hills who also has four.
Show Low’s Zach Win is top ranked in D-III with six home runs.
In slugging percentage, McMullen is division fifth-ranked with a 1.094 average.
While it’s obvious McMullen is a gifted hitter, he also shines on defense as a first baseman, outfielder and pitcher.
Although he didn’t pitch last season due to an arm strain, McMullen returned to the mound March 12 in a 6-4 win over Snowflake.
In the close, hard-fought game that could have gone either way, coach Brian Young called on McMullen to relieve in the third inning with one out and the bases jam-packed with Lobo base runners.
McMullen rose up to pitch out of the jam without giving up a run and went on to finish four complete innings giving up two hits while striking out four and walking one.
Seeing McMullen do well on the diamond is nothing unusual for Payson fans who have been admiring his play since he was a Little League Major Division all-star who, along with fellow PHS teammate Miguel Mendoza, came within a whisper in 2006 of winning the state championship.
Last season, McMullen led the team in hitting with a robust .488 average. He also stroked a team-high 13 doubles, one triple and four home runs. A good contact hitter, he struck out just eight times in 82 at-bats.
As a freshman, McMullen helped lead the Longhorns into the state tournament before being eliminated by a first-round loss to Florence.