Pitching dominates at the high school level.
When a team has an elite pitcher, they have a chance to win each and every time they take the field.
No two baseball teams in the area know this better than the Westfield Wolverines and the Fredonia Hillbillies.
Westfield's Nolan Hunt and Fredonia's Cam Voss have been dominating batters the past two seasons and the similarities between the two are striking.
Both Hunt and Voss were named Fourth Team All State as pitchers last season. What is even more impressive is they earned the honor as sophomores.
This season, the domination has continued and both pitchers have their teams poised to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Voss is no stranger to making a run at a state title. Last season he helped lead the Hillbillies to a New York State Public High School Association Class B championship.
After having his innings closely monitored during the regular season, Voss shined in the playoffs with a one-hitter in the state final against Clinton and leading up to the final he threw three-hitters against Tonawanda and Falconer.
At approximately 6-foot-2-inches and 200 pounds, Voss, a lefty, is getting attention from multiple Division 1 scouts and looks to be a sure bet to have an impressive collegiate career.
He has even garnered the attention of at least one scout at the highest level.
During Fredonia's home game versus Springville earlier this season, a scout from the Toronto Blue Jays attended the game to see Voss in action. Although he didn't have his best outing, Voss still impressed.
According to Fredonia's pitching coach, Charlie LaDuca, the scout commented on Voss' smooth delivery and was impressed by his size.
"Physically, he has grown quite a bit since last season," LaDuca said. "He has big, strong legs and has developed a better understanding of how to pitch in big games. This season he is more aggressive, too. Prior to this season he was pretty laid back. He's never going to be a fist-pump guy, but we wanted him to be more assertive and take charge. He has done that this season."
LaDuca, who coached Pine Valley for 23 years and led the Panthers to a state title in 2007, has been working with Voss for three years and has been an assistant with the Hillbilly program for two seasons.
During his time with Voss he has seen the young lefty make great strides and has helped tweak certain aspects of his game along the way.
"Mechanically he had a couple things to work on," LaDuca said. "We worked on strength training, a lot of pitching-specific back and cable work and we do mental work. The mental part is the biggest. We go over mental aspects such as what to do when the strike zone isn't what you expect or when guys get hits off good pitches. He's like a sponge and works a process well."
Voss has been with the varsity program for three seasons and his record is staggering, as he has yet to lose a game and boasts a 17-0 record as a starter.
One aspect of Voss' game that he has greatly improved this season is his ability to finish what he starts.
Coming into this season, Voss had only finished a couple of games over the course of his career, but this season he has consistently gone the distance.
"He only finished a couple games during the regular season last year," Fredonia coach Vince Gullo said. "It started in the playoffs last year and he already has four this season. Once he gets to college he will throw harder, too. He's extremely tough to hit off. Between his arm angle and the way he hides the ball well, plus the way he snaps the ball, it can go anywhere."
Cam's father, Kevin, was a standout at Dunkirk and Cam's uncles were also very good ballplayers.
Gullo had the opportunity to watch Voss over the years in Little League and jayvee so he knew that eventually he would be getting a dominant pitcher.
Westfield coach Doug Kaltenbach, on the other hand, received a pleasant surprise when he realized just how good Hunt, also a lefty, was going to be at the varsity level.
"He was MVP of our league last season as a sophomore," Kaltenbach said. "He was undefeated and had a great ERA. We knew he was a very good pitcher, but we also had other good pitchers at the time. I was taken back a little with how good he is. What he has is a great baseball knowledge. I really don't have to tell him anything."
Kaltenbach wanted Hunt on the varsity team as a freshman, but he knew the young left hander still had some growing to do both mentally and physically.
The extra year seemed to benefit Hunt and he began dominating from the first time he took the field.
Hunt was undefeated over the course of the 2013 regular season, maintained a sub-1.00 ERA and batted over .500 in league games, yet his coach still finds his work ethic to be his most impressive attribute.
Over this past winter, Kaltenbach received a photo from the Hunts. In the photo, Nolan can be seen standing in the snow, throwing a baseball into a net set up against a barn in preparation for the upcoming season.
It is that dedication, combined with his raw athleticism, that has NCAA Division I scouts interested in Hunt as well as Voss.
After attending the elite pitching camp at Division I Canisius College, Hunt began implementing the strength and conditioning program he learned during his time with the instructors.
Since then, Hunt has taken it upon himself to workout every day and has added 25 pounds of muscle to his approximately 5-11 frame.
Like Voss, Hunt still has his senior season ahead of him, which spells trouble for opposing batters in the Chautauqua County Athletic Association.
Both Hunt and Voss have also grown as leaders during their time on varsity.
Coming up at such a young age, Voss had great senior leadership to follow. But this year, with those seniors gone and the expectations high, he has had to step into the void left behind and learn how to lead.
"He's a gamer and a quiet leader," Gullo said. "He realizes he has to lead this year. He was taken under the wing of a great group of seniors last year. Now he understands this is his and Weston's (Ley) team. He still has another year and a half of baseball left and realizes the best way for him to be successful is to win with the guys behind him."
Hunt has learned how to lead gradually. A quiet, unassuming teenager by nature, Hunt has become a leader in his own unique way and has his Wolverines playing with confidence behind him.
"He came up last year and was very quiet. He mostly stayed in background," Kaltenbach said. "He was very unassuming, but now you can hear him all the time. He uses his baseball sense to lead.
"He absolutely is a leader and everyone knows it," Kaltenbach added. "The team has a confidence when he is pitching. He's not the most outgoing kid. Until last year, he didn't hardly speak; he held everything in. Going from there to where he is now has been a huge change."
With the post season just around the corner, both pitchers will be relied upon heavily to lead their teams on a playoff run.
As for their individual careers, the sky appears to be the limit and only time will tell just how far they will go.