Updated Wed, May 16, 2012 9:44 pm
Among the world’s fastest land animals are the cheetah, the pronghorn antelope and the Ohio University center fielder.
Perhaps that’s a lie. You will not catch Ethan Newton chasing down pronghorn antelopes in his spare time. (Humans rank right after the house cat on the list of fastest land animals, so in theory it would be impossible.)
But Newton can certainly hunt down prey with the best of them. His target? Bases. Bases that, if you ask any opposing pitcher, do not belong to him.
The 5’10” outfielder recently chased down Ohio’s career steals record formerly held by Marc Sims (1991-’94). Newton has 43 steals in his short two-year career at Ohio, which is phenomenal considering it took Sims four years to do the same.
“When I initially came here, I knew it was a record I had a shot at and coach [Carbone] did too,” said Newton. “The fact that he’s had the confidence in me for these two years to go after that record and to finally get it is a great honor.”
Newton, a senior, is no stranger to stealing bases. His speed was part of the charm he brought to Ohio for his junior season. As a freshman at Allegany College of Maryland, Newton swiped 41 bases. He ranks second all-time in steals in Allegany College history.
“[Stealing bases is] just always something I’ve been able to do,” said Newton. “I feel like I’ve always been a pretty smart ballplayer and I’ve used my speed well.”
Newton used his speed to pile on 20 steals at the start of his Ohio career and has 23 this season. Had he played at Ohio all four years and stolen bases at the same pace, Newton would have more than doubled Sims’ output, perhaps securing his place in Ohio baseball history for some time.
Still, however, Newton has at least temporarily claimed his stake in Ohio baseball history. Newton is also hot on the heels of another record, one stolen base away from the single-season steals mark of 24 set by Matt Hudik in 1990. Although he knows the record is within reach, Newton is focused on making sure his team plays a lot more baseball this season heading into the MAC tournament.
“I can’t press on that and try to make it happen and try to force it to happen,” said Newton of the single-season record, “but to be able to get that would be great.”
Newton added that first on his list of short-term goals is “to get three wins this weekend” – referring to Ohio’s final home stand against Miami. But with the center fielder so close to the single-season record, the Redhawks may want to keep their eyes peeled. Bases will need to be under heavy guard to protect themselves from Newton (and pronghorn antelopes).
*Alex Hider contributed to this article.