WEST LAFAYETTE – Tanner Andrews has come a long way.
He hopes that the best is still yet to come.
Andrews, a former three-sport star at Tippecanoe Valley High School, is now in his senior season as an ace for the Purdue pitching staff.
Andrews, who is off to a strong start in his final season for the Boilermakers, is clearly focused on one big goal in his final campaign on the hill.
“Our goal from day one this season is to win a Big 10 title,” said Andrews in a phone interview Tuesday. “We put the work in during the offseason. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of.”
Andrews, a 6-3 right-hander, has made five starts for the Boilers thus far. He is 2-2 with a 1.84 ERA and has allowed just six earned runs in 29 1/3 innings of work with nine walks and 28 strikeouts.
“I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now,” Andrews commented. “I had a rough outing last week, but I will learn from that. In my first four starts, I was pitching down in the zone and gave my team a chance to win.”
Andrews made 15 apperances last season for the Boilers. He was 8-4 with a 4.52 ERA and also earned Academic All-Big 10 honors off the diamond. Purdue finished 29-27 overall and 12-12 in the Big 10 in 2017 under new head coach Mark Wasikowski. The Boilers had a 19-win improvement from the previous year and appeared in the Big 10 Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Andrews was a dominant force during his outstanding prep career for the Vikings. He was an All-State wide receiver his senior season on the gridiron, averaged 20 points and nine rebounds per game on the basketball court and hit .601 with five homers and 24 stolen bases on the diamond. He was All-TRC and team MVP of all three sports at Valley and also an outstanding student.
Andrews admits that he’s come far since a tough freshman year at Purdue in 2015. He was 0-0 that season with a 5.06 ERA and made seven relief appearances with 10 2/3 total innings of work.
“My freshman year was a slap in the face and a reality check for me,” admitted Andrews. “It was weird for me, but overcoming that fed me. It made me a better person. It made me work harder and make sure that I earned every pitch that I got to throw.
“That season made me more grateful. It taught me to not get complacent and to put every ounce into every workout. The thing is that I’ve grown a lot here. I’m 30 pounds heavier than I was in high school and a lot stronger.
“I’ve learned how to pitch here. I didn’t pitch that much at Valley and when I did I just threw as hard as I could. I’ve grown a lot here just focusing on baseball for four years and throwing every day. I’ve learned the beauty of angles with my arm action and body and that’s what pitching is all about.”
“I like to attack early and get up on counts. I have a great catcher here (Nick Dalesandro) who steals me a lot of strikes down in the zone. I try to get a lot of swing and misses with my fastball up or my slider down in the dirt.”
Andrews, whose fastball hits the mid to upper 90s, relishes the time he has spent at Purdue.
“It’s been awesome to be here,” said Andrews, who was 2-6 as a sophomore on a team that finished 10-44 overall and 2-22 in the Big 10. “It’s been a family since I stepped on campus. The brotherhood with my teammates is something that you can’t compare to anything else. We live together and spend hours and hours together. We drag each other to 6 a.m. workouts. The friendships are special and I’m very blessed to be a part of it.”
Andrews credits his family for his success on the field. Father Todd played baseball at Grace College and older brother Brody is at Grand Valley State University.
“They are my two best friends,” said Andrews of his Dad and sibling. “They have been great influences on me. We talk every day. Our Dad taught us the game and pushed us when we needed to be pushed. He made both of us way better players. My brother is just an incredible hitter. We use to go at it. It was crazy trying to get him out pitching to him.”
Andrews admits that he does miss competing in basketball and football. His roommate at Purdue is former Valley quarterback Ben Shriver, whose father Jeff was the head coach of the Vikings when the pair were connecting on touchdown passes in Akron.
The Boilers, who have lost their last five games, are off to a 9-9 start this Spring. They are scheduled to make their home debut Friday versus Lipscomb University at Alexander Field. The series has been shifted with a doubleheader now set for Friday starting at 2 p.m. with a single game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Andrews, who is set to take the ball on Friday for the home opener, has big goals once he hangs up his spikes for the Black and Gold.
“Lord willing, I want to continue to pursue baseball after Purdue,” remarked Andrews. “I’ve talked to a lot of major league teams. Wherever I go, I will be grateful to have the opportunity.”