Most pitching staffs have some right-handers, and some left-handers.
At Carmel, one pitcher fits both descriptions.
Sophomore Joe Santoro is a righty and a lefty, and can switch back-and-forth between the two effortlessly. He is completely ambidextrous, and it's almost uncanny how he is able to replicate his form right down to the smallest detail from one side of the mound to the other.
"I've never seen anyone like Joe," Carmel coach Dann Giesey said. "He's always thrown from both sides. He grew up that way. And what's amazing is that his arm slot is identical on both sides."
Santoro's unique talent is getting him opportunities as a relatively inexperienced underclassman on a crowded and experienced pitching staff that runs 10 deep. He can also play in the field and use either hand to catch. He has a neutral glove that he can switch from one hand to the other.
"That hardest thing is trying to figure out how we want to use Joe," said Giesey, who starts Santoro in the outfield when he's not pitching. "But we love that versatility."
According to IHSA rules, Santoro can be versatile only to a point when pitching.
He would be allowed to switch throwing arms within an inning, from one batter to another. But he would not be able to switch throwing arms within an at-bat.
Both the pitcher and the batter must declare one side and stick with it for the entire at-bat.
Santoro certainly had it going in the batter's box Thursday, finishing with 2 doubles and a homer in a 9-8 win over Palatine.
Normally, Carmel coach Dann Giesey likes using a six-man pitching rotation.
And with five of his six pitchers from last year back in the fold, Giesey figured that he'd have an easy time filling the remaining slot.
But five pitchers all stepped up big during the preseason, making Giesey's choice almost impossible. So, Giesey simply added them all to the rotation.
He's used 10 different pitchers in Carmel's 11 games this season.
"We feel extremely good about our pitchers 1 through 10," Giesey said. "Even our 10th guy gives a quality outing. We're just extremely deep on the pitching side. We had kids who were in limited roles last year who probably should have been starting but they were behind some really good players.
"It's hard to find pitching time for all these guys but I guess that's a nice problem to have."
Giesey has made a point of adding some junior varsity games to the schedule. He wants his younger and less experienced pitchers to continue to get reps, with the hopes that they will be tuned up and ready for any future opportunities they could get in varsity games. Led by senior standouts Quentin Sefcik and Dalton Wright, who both could fill the role of ace this season, the Carmel pitching staff also includes sophomores Cal Coughlin and Joe Santoro, as well as veterans Brian Stanislawski, Matt Skarzynski, Joey Lehman and Garrett McClellan.
There's a youth movement at Carmel this season, and everyone could see it coming.
Sophomores Joe Santoro, Cal Coughlin and Cooper Johnson made a splash last summer and they carried that right into the spring. All three are now starting for the Corsairs on varsity.
Santoro pitches but mostly plays in the outfield. Coughlin starts at third when he's not pitching and Johnson catches and is a designated hitter. He's hitting in the No. 4 spot in the lineup and boasts a .400 batting average.
"With all three of them being heavily in the mix last summer, we knew they would be good and would probably contribute on varsity this spring," Carmel coach Dann Giesey said. "But we didn't expect their production to be this good this quickly.
"Everyone is figuring out who they are now and that they are sophomores and they come after them. But those three are all handling it very well and it's fun to watch them play and develop."