By Jennifer Van Tuyl
Big 12 Correspondent
"You don't just throw the ball - you propel it." - Warren Spahn
On Nov. 5, the Oklahoma baseball team made their annual visit to the Willow Springs Boys’ Ranch to interact with the kids and volunteer. At the ranch, the team also voted on team captains, one being senior Jeremy Erben.
Erben, in his third year as a Sooner, was excited yet humbled about being named a team captain. The fact that his teammates voted for him, Erben said, was an honor because it showed the respect and trust they have in him to the lead the team.
The most visible form of leadership has been his performance this season. Erben entered April leading the nation in ERA and has not allowed a run in 10 of his 12 outings, including a 22- inning scoreless streak. The way he competes on the field sets the tone for the team, as does his dedication.
“His work ethic is definitely why he is captain,” teammate Ryan Duke said. “I know for a fact that I am faster than him and he was with me every sprint in the off season. He is right there with me if he’s not beating me. He has tremendous work ethic and is a guy you can expect to give his best all the time.”
Erben believes setting an example is vital for the team, but knows he must also contribute as a leader when he is not taking the mound. Said to be the calming effect, Erben likes to make sure the team is loose in the dugout by joking around and is also the guy his teammates can turn to in any situation.
“I knew I was going to come back for my senior year,” Erben said. “I had to make sure the guys who were coming back were doing the right thing and working hard to get themselves in position to perform well. I also take it upon myself to make sure the younger guys stay within themselves and look to me when they need to.”
Erben could have easily just worn the captain sleeve or “just thrown the ball,” but he has taken an active role as a leader for his team. Just as the Warren Spahn quote says, “you propel it.”
Coming into the 2010 season, Erben had a 1-4 career mark and is now 5-0 this season after 12 appearances. Although he stands out as a pitcher, what Erben hopes to leave behind is a legacy of his all-around dedication to the game.
“I want people to think I was a hard worker and I did things right,” Erben said. “I respected the game and everything this program has to offer.”