Jordan Kipper is feeling good.
The Mountain Pointe graduate recently threw a seven-inning, no-hitter for Arizona Central College against Odessa College on March 15.
It’s a clear indicator that Kipper has fully assimilated to the next level while continuing to progress after missing a year on the mound two years ago per doctor’s orders after a rapid growth spurt.
“He’s been really good for us all year,” Central Arizona coach Jon Wente said. “Obviously, he had a very good ending to his high school career and confirmed he was going to be someone we’d count on right away.”
Kipper, who had the game-winning hit in the state title game last spring, entered this week’s action with a 4-1 record with a 1.98 ERA in seven games, including six starts. He has a team-high 41 innings while allowing 26 hits with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks.
He has allowed one home run with two hit batters, no wild pitches and has two complete games.
The singular moment, of course, was the no-hitter, the first since 2010 for the program when Jimmy Patterson, a McClintock product, did it against GateWay College.
Kipper struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter. The defense made a few errors behind him so it wasn’t the cleanest no-hitter in history, but a no-no nonetheless.
“I didn’t know how they scored a few of the plays so I wasn’t sure if it was a no-hitter,” Kipper said. “When it happened, the guys congratulated me but it wasn’t crazy because it was the first game (of a doubleheader) and we still had business to take care of.”
Kipper, who was drafted in the 39th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June, definitely took care of Odessa with a good mix of pitches and a pitcher’s best attribute — first-pitch strike.
He faced 25 batters in the seven-inning game, throwing first-pitch strikes to 15. He threw 71 pitches overall, 49 for strikes.
“The best thing about the no-hitter is that we won a 1-0 game,” Wente said. “It was a close and well-contested game. It was a good outing and Odessa had a good lineup. He had his breaking ball working against right-handers and his change-up against left-handers.
“At our level when a pitcher has two pitches working, he is going to be tough, but when he has three pitches like Jordan did that day no-hitters happen.”
Wente said Kipper’s arm slot, which is more of three-quarters delivery than over the top, is a little higher than it was when he was pitching with the Pride.
“When we signed Jordan and watched him in the spring what I saw was an arm slot that was a little lower,” Wente said. “I think part of that was the health of his arm. He is finally 100 percent healthy so it’s a little higher now and makes the ball run a little more. I think it will help his career last longer as he leaves here for another school or in the pros.”
It’s not like Kipper showed any rust as a senior after missing his junior year on the mound after being shut down. He was 8-1 with a 3.90 ERA for the Pride, but missing that junior season was a year of experience missed.
“I’ve definitely improved and I’m throwing better, but I don’t think it has anything to do (with being healthy),” he said. “I was fine last year. I’m learning down here with a great coaching staff and I’ve thrown the ball pretty good.”
Kipper is not the only one. Freshman reliever Junior Zepeda, who also pitched for the Pride last year, has a 1.26 ERA in 14 1/3 innings (13 games) and is 1-1 with 10 saves.
“Zepeda has been very clutch,” Wente said. “We haven’t had a closer in many years here at CAC, but Junior has taken that role and flourished in it.”
The team has won 24 of its first 31 games and continues to be one of the nation’s top junior college programs.
Kipper said it has been the perfect fit as he gets to get away and lives in a dorm, but can also make the short trip home from Casa Grande.
“I love it down here and coach doesn’t have a problem with us going home when we can,” he said. “It’s been a good experience and the coaching staff is even better than I thought. I couldn’t have made a better decision.”
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