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All-Metro baseball pitcher of the year: Francis Howell's Nepute turns up the heat during postseason

From the 2022 All-Metro baseball series
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As Francis Howell junior pitcher Brysen Nepute scrolled through an early-season group chat with his teammates, a common theme emerged.

The Vikings were going to miss their seniors when the season came to an end.

Nepute took it upon himself to make sure the season stretched out as long as possible.

"We all talked about how much we'd miss them if we lost (early in the postseason)," Nepute said. "So we kept that in the back of our mind and did what we had to do."

Nepute was a stellar pitcher in the regular season, but he rose to a whole new level in the postseason. He posted a 3-0 record in four playoff games and helped lift Francis Howell to a third-place finish in Class 6.

It was the seventh top-four finish for Howell since coach Tony Perkins took over in 2000. 

"He was our horse," Perkins said. "Once you start winning, you ride that horse as long as you can and with Brysen being as hot as he was, throwing strikes and competing, we just kept riding him."

Nepute, the Post-Dispatch All-Metro pitcher of the year, led Howell with seven wins and posted a 1.50 ERA in 65 1/3 innings. He also recorded a save and only gave up 13 extra-base hits all season while striking out a team-high 78 batters. 

As good as he was in the regular season, he was a postseason hammer for the Vikings. 

"You got the adrenaline from the if you don't win, you're out," Nepute said. "You've got to keep that mentality. With that, you also have your teammates encouraging you and pushing you, it brings out the best in everybody."

In the three postseason games, he gave up just five earned runs in 24 2/3 innings and had 22 strikeouts. His only blemish came in the Class 6 semifinals, getting a no-decision against Liberty North after going six innings before the Vikings fell to the eventual state champions in 10 innings. 

The lefty stymied opposing hitters all season.

"His slider was disgusting," Francis Howell senior Jake McCutcheon said. "He set it up really well."

Nepute was new to Francis Howell this season after playing at CBC as a freshman and sophomore.

"I knew he was a stud," McCutcheon said. "I didn't know him personally before he got here, but I got to know him this year. We all tried our best to get him ingrained into the Howell culture."

Nepute endeared himself to the Vikings with his competitive, almost bulldog-like attitude, on the mound.

If he got the ball to start, he was going to finish.

"His attitude was always, 'I'm ready. Give me the ball and don't take me out,' " Perkins said. 

In the district title game against Fort Zumwalt West, Perkins trotted to the mound to see if Nepute felt as though he could get a couple more outs 

"He was not going to be taken out of that game," Perkins said. 

Perkins stayed the course and Howell ended up with the district title.

After the state semifinal loss, Nepute and the rest of the returning Vikings had a simple message to their coach.

They'll be back.

With that proclamation to their coach, Nepute got to work.

"I want to hit 90 mph and stay there consistently," Nepute said. "My mechanics aren't great, but once I get those down, it'll be easy."

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