Last summer, when we last spoke with Stephen White, life for the big right-hander was pretty sweet. His Falcons had won the KingCo tournament, his curveball was causing havoc for hitters, and his graduation gifts included four big boxes of Top Ramen noodles.
Nine months have since passed. White now sits as the #2 starter in the rotation for Tacoma Community College.
"Things are going really well," White said. "School is going fine. I've got great roommates here, actually from Issaquah and Eastlake, so we're keeping KingCo together. Life is going well, and baseball is good too. The biggest challenge has been living on my own without a mom to cook homemade meals – and having to learn to eat right and basically be a responsible college athlete."
With his freshman season approaching the halfway point, the Titans have a 15-1 record and boast the #2 spot in the NWAACC rankings. As of this writing, White has appeared in four games, posting a 2-1 record with a 3.11 ERA.
He attributes his ongoing development to TCC pitching coach Connor Lambert.
"Since I got here my pitching coach has actually tried to develop a slider for me to go along with that curveball that I have," White said. "My curve is effective and is slower and breaks more. He thinks that with a hard breaking slider to go with it, I will be more effective in this league. Those pitches are coming along well. I've been pitching pretty well and I'm just looking to find my niche on this team."
Part of finding that niche, it seems, revolves around keeping faith in his curveball.
"So far this season, in the first couple innings, I've had a hard time getting a feel for my breaking ball," he said. "But it's just about the process of sticking with it and trusting it and knowing it will come along later in the game. Eventually it will get going, and I will get stronger and stronger as the game goes on."
As White enjoys his time at TCC, bigger dreams linger in the back of his mind. 226 miles to the south, former Falcon teammate Caleb Hamilton is starting at third base for Oregon State University.
"I talk to Caleb every day," White said. "I always follow Oregon State baseball and especially now that Caleb is there. He's my best friend so I got to see how he's doing.
"It would be a dream come true, honestly, if I could join Caleb again at Oregon State," he said. "But I'm just trying to get my work here at TCC and then see what my options are after that."
As White hones his pitching craft and subsists on his boxes of Top Ramen noodles, he's keeping tabs on things back home.
"I've been following Woodinville baseball and I know they're not doing too well right now," he said. "But they'll get it turned around. I miss all my guys at home and miss my team. I miss Woodinville in general, actually."