By SETH STRINGER
NICEVILLE — For Grant Stewart, the decision to transfer from Florida State to NWF State hinged on him being a starter.
There just wasn't that future for the 5-foot-10, 170-pound southpaw in Tallahassee, where he excelled as a reliever.
After Saturday's complete-game gem in Niceville, Stewart may have earned a permanent spot in the Raiders rotation.
The Paxton 2016 graduate struck out 13 in a four-hitter spread across seven innings against East Mississippi Community College. All base knocks were singles as he faced just three over the minimum in a 4-0 win in the Max Bruner Classic.
The effort earned Stewart the FCSAA Pitcher of the Week, following teammate Christian Camacho's lead from a week ago. It also earned him an NJCAA Pitcher of the Week nod.
It was a nice rebound effort for Stewart, who was lit up for three runs on four hits, a walk and two hit batsman over an inning of relief in his first appearance. The sophomore now has 15 strikeouts over eight innings and a 3.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
Stewart excelled in his short time as a reliever at FSU. Three appearances in he had seven strikeouts, which included inheriting a runner on second and proceeding to strike out the side against Boston College in his third appearance. The flawless ERA ended soon after, but then came Stewart's first win after two scoreless innings of four-strikeout ball against Florida Gulf Coast. He later helped the Seminoles to a Super Regional appearance and ended his freshman season with a 1-0 record, 4.91 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings spread over 10 appearances.
"He contributed at Florida State and showed he could get guys out at that level," NWF State skipper Dough Martin said.
Through FSU pitching coach Mike Bell, Stewart's game became more polished as he switched from throwing on the third-base side of the rubber to the first-base side and started locating his breaking ball for strikes. His current arsenal of pitches includes a 12-6 curveball, a fastball that tops out at around 93 and sits high 80s, a changeup and a slider.