TUNNEL HILL — Northwest Whitfield High School's Cade Fisher had a stuffed baseball résumé before he ever saw any action in a high school game.
Fisher played on the junior varsity squad as a freshman before earning a bevy of scholarship offers the following summer thanks to his pitching performance with travel ball teams.
After choosing the University of Florida as his collegiate destination, the lanky left-hander was injured on the football field prior to what would have been his debut season with the varsity Bruins in 2020.
Fisher finally found the field in 2021, and his first high school season didn't disappoint.
A 21-strikeout performance in his first-ever varsity game set the tone for a season of dominance from the mound for Fisher, who finished with a 10-0 record, set a school single-season strikeout record with 160 and held an earned run average of just .27.
Oh, and he excelled at the plate too, belting five homers and racking up 29 RBIs.
"It meant a lot, just because this was pretty much my first year to actually get out there and play high school ball," Fisher said. "It was a pretty cool moment, that first game."
For his dominating performance in his debut season on the high school diamond, Fisher has been named the 2021 Daily Citizen-News All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
Fisher led the Bruins to a 21-12 mark in 2021, good for a third-place finish in Region 7-4A. Northwest dropped an opening round series to Druid Hills in the playoffs, not putting up enough run support to help out Fisher and the Bruins' other pitchers.
That's something Fisher said he and the team — Fisher usually comes in as a designated hitter when not pitching — can improve on.
"I feel like we pitched well overall," Fisher said. "At times we hit really well, but we kind of slacked off some when we needed it. That's something I can try to improve on heading into next season to try to win the region."
When Fisher was pitching though, the Bruins seldom needed much hitting.
Fisher earned 10 wins in his 12 starts on the year, with his other two starts ending with no decision.
Starting with his no-hitter in the season's very first game, Fisher threw seven complete-game shutouts on the year, most ending with the opposition tallying just one or two hits.
Fisher would blow past batters with speeds that sometimes breached the low 90s in miles per hour, then beat them with a mean curve or changeup.
Fisher credits his ability to sustain his strong pitching over the course of games to strides he's made in his confidence.
"I feel like I stepped up my mental game," Fisher said. "Just being able to not let stuff get to me as much as it did in the past and to settle down when things get rough. Not everything is always is going to be smooth-sailing and perfect. When the boat does start rocking, I'm able to just settle down and get through it."
Not that a lot of starts didn't play out pretty much ideally with Fisher on the mound.
Despite not appearing in a varsity game prior to 2021, Fisher had a pretty solid role model of a high school pitcher in his own family.
Cade's older brother, Ty, was a standout pitcher for Northwest before his 2019 graduation. The elder Fisher brother signed with Tennessee Tech out of high school before transferring to Georgia Southern.
"It's been really helpful for both of us," Fisher said. "He dominated a lot of things in high school, and I knew coming in that I had pretty big shoes to fill. One of my goals was to beat some of the things that he did."
Cade also watched Hank Bearden, the Daily Citizen-News All-Area Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019, pitch for the Bruins. With no award given out in 2020 after the cancellation of the latter portion of the baseball season because of COVID-19, Fisher's selection makes three straight seasons that a Northwest pitcher has earned the top award for the area. Bearden now pitches for the University of Georgia.
Fisher isn't shy about his ultimate goals in baseball. He wants to go pro.
"Hopefully one day, I can maybe be blessed enough to be drafted and go play professional ball," Fisher said.
With a spot on the team at Florida awaiting him after high school, Fisher knows that may one day be a possibility.
For now though, he's focused on making his senior season for the Bruins just as dominant.
"I'm always trying to improve my game, but I'm trying to hopefully win region and get as far as I can to make some memories with my teammates and friends," Fisher said. "I'm pretty excited to go to college and hopefully maybe one day play in the pros, but I definitely want to take my time to slow down and enjoy my last high school season."