Toerner still turning heads at BC

Sophomore pitcher Austin Toerner enters his wind up before delivering a pitch during a game on March 7.

J.R. Hensley

Sophomore pitcher Austin Toerner enters his wind up before delivering a pitch during a game on March 7.

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

Among the power arms in the Bakersfield College pitching rotation the past two seasons, sophomore Austin Toerner has been tough to ignore. In his freshman campaign, Toerner posted a record of 7-2, averaging 4.69 strikeouts per nine innings with an earned run average of 3.91. While his sophomore season hasn’t resulted in as many wins (4-4 record), his strikeouts per nine innings have jumped to 4.99 and he has surrendered 12 fewer hits. The right-hander is in his final few semesters at Bakersfield College, and has already received his AA in psychology. The Golden Valley High School product has already committed to California State University Northridge, and intends to continue his baseball career there.

While at Golden Valley, Toerner played centerfield and first base, before being converted full time into a pitcher his first year at BC. While most might struggle to make such an adjustment, Toerner excelled, missing only his at bats from his life elsewhere on the diamond. “It’s tough not to hit because obviously, you want to hit, but it’s better to specialize in [pitching],” said Toerner.

His transition was aided by head coach Tim Painton, who worked with Toerner on his mechanics. “He gives you all the material and we put it all together, and then I just had to work from there,” Toerner said. Toerner chose Bakersfield College because of his affinity for the coaching staff, calling it a “good fit” and “somewhere for me to continue to grow as a player.” Toerner’s favorite aspect of playing for the Renegades has been the close-knit makeup of the roster and the staff. “The team is like a second family,
they’re all doing it for each other. You’re not always going to get along, but at the end of the day, we’re all there for each other,” said Toerner. He is also humble in regard to his own contributions to the team, deflecting praise of his own accomplishments, saying “It’s not just me, it’s a team effort, the guys behind me, catcher, all working together.”

That sense of comradery might heighten should he be able to follow in his family’s footsteps at CSUNorthridge, and join his cousin Justin Toerner on the field. The Toerner family legacy began with his mother Kathy Toerner, who won back-to-back national softball titles at CSUN in 1984 and 1985, and was enshrined in the Matador Hall of Fame as part of a ceremony on July 24, 2016.

He isn’t nervous about the future, finding comfort in his familiarity with the Northridge campus. Instead, Toerner continues to refine his curveball, one of the pitches in his three-pitch arsenal which includes a changeup, and his favorite pitch, the fourseam fastball. He used to throw a slider, but ditched it in favor of the curveball, noting that the grip and motion essentially became too similar out of his hand. Though his ultimate goal is to find success with any club at the major-league level, Toerner said that if he had a say in the matter, he would love to be drafted by either the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or the Cincinnati Reds.

He would also like to continue to pursue his education in the field of psychology, should baseball for some reason not pan out. Yet despite the anticipation to attend CSUN in the future and his major-league baseball aspirations, Toerner remains locked in the moment, firing potent fastballs and steam shovel curveballs to carve up batters in Bakersfield.