A Product of the Valley: The Justin Showalter Story

A Product of the Valley: The Justin Showalter Story
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:53 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Justin Showalter’s dream was to be a baseball player in the Shenandoah Valley.

“I remember as a kid I would always have my hats hung up on the wall,” said Showalter. “TA because I wanted to be a (Turner Ashby) baseball player and then a JMU hat because I wanted to play at JMU.”

Showalter made those desires a reality. The Rockingham County native and right-handed pitcher helped Turner Ashby win a VHSL state title in 2017 before joining James Madison to compete at the NCAA Division I level.

“Getting to actually put on that JMU hat was a really good feeling because it’s where my parents both went to school, my grandad coached here,” said Showalter. “It definitely runs in the family to be a Duke.”

After a limited role out of the bullpen as a freshman, Showalter became the Dukes’ midweek starter as a sophomore in 2019. He logged a 3.72 ERA in 36.1 innings pitched for a team that won 31 games.

Showalter then became a breakout star as a junior in 2020 when he performed as one of the best pitchers in the country. He posted a 0.68 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched before the season was unexpectedly shut down early due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. If the 2020 campaign was played, as originally scheduled, it’s likely that Showalter would’ve been selected in the MLB Draft or had a chance to sign with a professional team.

“That was really hard,” said Showalter, when reflecting on the 2020 season. “Not going to lie. It was really tough kind of seeing how the season was progressing and...right on the cusp of professional baseball, which has been my goal since I was a little kid, and seeing this all start to unfold and know we were right there and then for all of that to be cut short, that was definitely tough.”

In 2021, Showalter pitched well for the Dukes but was limited to just six starts and 35.0 innings during another season that was shortened due to impacts of COVID-19. The right-handed hurler decided to return to JMU for a fifth season in 2022 and he served as the Dukes’ Friday-night starter, a role generally reserved for the top pitcher on the staff. Showalter threw a career-high 72.1 innings and made 14 starts while posting a 5.10 ERA and registering 67 strikeouts.

“In a year like this, I am just excited to be back on the field playing a regular season,” said Showalter. “I think the past two years showed me not to take that for granted.”

With his college baseball career now over, Showalter is hoping to earn an opportunity to pitch professionally. He’s remaining ready and continuing to throw each week while awaiting the 2022 MLB Draft.

“I think I’ve been in a good state of mind knowing that I have done everything I can the past five years,” said Showalter. “I have planted the seeds and I have put in all the work to know that I’m in the best situation I possibly can be, given these circumstances, to keep playing.”

The 2022 MLB Draft begins July 17.

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