JUB’s ace pitcher ready to take skills to next level
By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Landon Mura is a young man of few words, until you mention baseball.
The 17-year-old J.U. Blacksher pitcher struck out 18 batters in a single game just over a week ago to set a new school record. That is a tremendous feat for any pitcher, but Mura remains humble about his accomplishments.
“I never intended to set a school record,” the Bulldogs hurler said. “I just wanted to go out there, put my team on my back and win.”
You never know what to expect from Mura when he takes the mound.
He is able to dig deeply into an arsenal of deadly, accurate pitches. His fastball and slider are effective, but the right-hander is best known for a curveball that he throws at several speeds and that has become his strikeout pitch.
“When I am on the mound, I look at where the team is within the lineup,” Mura said. “If they are within the bottom of the order, I know I can blow a fastball by (the batter). If they are in the top of the order, I can throw off-speed pitches.”
Mura is not only an accurate pitcher, but also swings a hot bat for the Bulldogs. He said his ability to hit the ball where he needs to in order to take an extra base or drive in a run is a trait shared with many of his teammates.
“I consider myself a good contact hitter, but at the same time, my entire team is,” he said.
Preparation for gamedays are important to every athlete, and each one tends to have some weird tradition or superstition that he or she follow to prepare for a game.
For Mura, who in November signed a grant-in-aid with Coastal Alabama Community College-North, his routine includes a Mountain Dew and a Snickers bar, as well as a visit to an older-generation gentleman who gives Mura a prep talk before every game.
Upon graduation from JUB in May, Mura will begin the process of transitioning to college baseball life.
“I have been playing with my (current) teammates for the majority of my life,” he said. “I will always take the things I have learned as a Bulldog with me.”
Bulldogs head coach Justin Mixon, who first began coaching Mura during the student-athlete’s eighth-grade year, has had a strong influence on the youngster, on and off the baseball diamond.
“Coach Mixon has not only taught me the game of baseball but has also taught me how to be a good man,” said Mura. “He treats me and the rest of the team like his own sons and loves each of us. He is a huge part of my life.”
For any player, the transition to a new school and coach can be a tough one. For Mura, leaving Mixon behind is going to be the hardest part.
“It is going to be different and maybe tough at times,” he said. “I wish I could pack Coach up and take him with me, but this is something that everyone has to transition to, and he will remain my mentor and a huge part of my life.”
Mixon said his pitching ace has yet to reach his full potential and would most likely continue to be a leader, no matter where he plays.
“I’m very proud of Landon and his accomplishments,” the JUB coach said. “Landon is a quiet guy, but he carries himself the right way. He always does the right thing and leads by example. He is learning what he is capable of and he is a great kid.”
JUB is more than just a school to Mura. It’s home and family to a young athlete who models himself after Atlanta Braves first-baseman Freddie Freeman, who recently announced that he would love to spend his entire career with the Atlanta team.
“He is always quiet and just does what he needs to do; above all, he remains humble,” Mura said of the all-star major leaguer. “I want to represent my home and be one of the few who makes it into pro baseball. But above all, I want to remain humble and never brag. It’s going to be hard leaving my team but it’s something that we all have to do.”
Mura is planning on majoring in electrical engineering and wants to see how far baseball takes him. While he chases his goals and dreams, his family and the Uriah community will be his biggest fans.