CHEYENNE – Travis Onisto is coming into his own.
The Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 left-hander had tossed seven-inning complete games in two of his past three outings.
Sandwiched between those efforts was a three-inning relief effort where he outdueled Air Force-bound righty Ryan Stohr and helped Post 6 get a 3-2 win over the Catalyst Cardinals.
“I take a lot of pride in those complete games, because I really want to carry the water for our team,” said Onisto, who just finished his junior year at Cheyenne East. “I don’t really care if I get the win, I just try to help us out and put us in position to win.”
Onisto has been doing just that.
His 53 2/3 innings pitched are the most on the Post 6 roster this summer. His 72 strikeouts are also tops, while his six wins are second, and his 2.61 earned-run average is third.
Onisto is trusting his fastball more than he has in the past, Cheyenne manager Ty Lain said.
“He has always been able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes,” he said. “When he started to command his fastball better, he really took off and started dominating hitters.
“He has started competing with the fastball and keeping people off balance with his off-speed stuff.”
Onisto credits his recent run of success to spending more time throwing on flat ground before his starts.
“I focus on really locating my pitches and getting them where I want,” he said. “I have gotten more consistent in my pitches. My fastball was pretty good, I just couldn’t always throw it where I wanted to.
“I have really focused on that, and, now, I’m throwing it where I want.”
Onisto’s fastball control isn’t merely about finding the strike zone, or blowing it by hitters. It’s about getting it where he wants, whether that’s inside, outside or nibbling on the edges of the plate.
“When teams start looking for my curveball, I’ll mix in the fastball to get them off balance,” Onisto said. “Once I have them off balance, I’ll go back to my curveball. That keeps them off balance the whole game.”
Onisto made the jump from Cheyenne’s freshman-level prep squad to its varsity unit last summer. He was solid, despite skipping over the junior-varsity level. Onisto’s six wins tied for fourth-most on the Post 6 roster; his 60 strikeouts were fourth. His 62 innings pitched ranked fifth. He also posted a 3.73 earned-run average.
Onisto knew he had to make another jump this season, and he set out to get stronger. He has done that, but he also has maintained a skill that makes him stand out, Lain said.
“He has a unique pitching style in that he can pitch backward,” the coach said. “He can get ahead with his off-speed stuff and throw any pitch in any count. The key for him at the next level is improving his fastball and developing more arm strength.
“He doesn’t have to throw it very hard to be effective, but getting to the low- to mid-80 range could have him pitching for a long time.”
Onisto has always pitched that way.
“I have always loved the curveball, and it has always been one of my main pitches,” he said. “Being able to throw it in any count has been really good for me.”