by Dan Cleary
LINWOOD, NJ - Everyone knows the popular television crime-drama, “Law & Order,” with its distinctive opening sound of “Dun-Dun” and the numerous spin-offs it has spawned over the years.
Well, just outside of Atlantic City, N.J., there is another “Law & Order” in the making. The Law is supplied by hard-throwing righty Charles Law from Mainland Regional High School. And the Order is how Law sets down the opposition’s lineup, in order, 1-2-3. Although it is not criminal, don’t tell that to the batters Law mows down on a consistent basis.
Law, an imposing 6-foot-7, 211-pounder, has brought his game to a new level and has both collegiate and professional scouts salivating at the chance to land him as he enters his senior year for the Mustangs. Many project the Linwood native, who comes from a talented baseball family, to be one of the top prospects in the Garden State this year.
“I want to keep my arm and legs in shape and get stronger because I want to consistently throw in the low to mid-90s (mph). Those couple of miles-per-hour are very important,” said Law, who has developed his skills at Joe Barth Jr’s Hit Doctor Academy in Cherry Hill (N.J.) and played for the Academy’s Tri-State Arsenal team over the summer.
“I was all over the place this summer. It was baseball all summer long,” added Law, who helped Mainland go17-7 in the Cape Atlantic League and gain a berth in the South Jersey Group 4 state playoffs last spring. “It was unbelievable playing all over the country and the fields we played on were great. It was a great experience that I hope I can build on.”
Law, who has sprung up two inches over the summer, had fantastic junior campaign for Mainland and its veteran coach Gary Hegh. Law went 7-3 with a 1.24 ERA, allowed just 11 earned runs and set a school record with 100 strikeouts. He fanned a school-best 17 in a 2-1 win over St. Joseph’s (Hammonton) in April. He can also swing the bat and he plays first when he is not pitching. He hit .455 with 21 runs scored and three homers.
“They (players like Law) come around once in a lifetime for a coach,” said Hegh, who went to Wake Forest and has been coaching at Mainland since the mid-1980s. “I expect big things from him, but there are things he still has to work on, like getting ahead in the count and working on his curveball. He just has to refine the tools he has. He comes from a baseball family and he has a great attitude. I just wish they (the Law’s) had more kids,” he added, laughing.
Hegh coached Law’s older brothers, Jason, 27, who was an All-American at Monmouth University, and Ian, 23, an All-Conference player at Lafayette. Jonathan Law, the patriarch of the Law clan, also played at Monmouth.
“He has great potential, but he is still in what I call the baby stages,” Hegh said of Charles. “He will get a lot of looks from scouts and colleges. I think he is going to be almost unhittable this season and he can also swing the bat.”
Law’s success last high school season served as a springboard for a great summer for the Arsenal, where he competed on both the Under-17 and Under-16 traveling squads.
“Toward the beginning, I felt some pressure. But by the end of the summer, I was thriving on it. As a pitcher, you can’t let pressure bother you. You have to use it to your advantage,” Law said. “I played against the best 16-and-17-year-old players in the nation with 100-to-200 scouts at every game. It was great knowing I could play at that level.
“This summer I really learned how to pitch,” he added. “In high school, you can just throw it past a kid. But everyone I faced this summer was good, and if you didn’t pitch to them correctly, you would get rocked.”
Law is still working on his pitching repertoire. He only started throwing a curve a couple of years ago under the advice of his father, a former hurler who didn’t want to see his son throw out his arm before he even hit high school because he threw too many breaking balls. As a result, he developed a devastating changeup, which will become even more effective once he adds more speed to his fastball.
“The change is my best pitch,” he said. “I can throw it at anytime in the count for a strike. Even at 3-0. I’ve been throwing since Little League.
“My future lies in pitching, but I still like to hit,” added Law, who is also the starting center on the successful Mainland basketball team. “And I hit pretty well over the summer. One of the requirements for the school I pick is whether they will let me hit,” added Law, who said Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds is his favorite player and he wears No. 24 in his honor. “I also want to go to a school with a winning background. If you don’t win it is no fun. I want a chance to go to Omaha (Nebraska) and play in the College World Series.”
Law is currently looking at several schools, including Rutgers, Arizona State, Rice, Tennessee and, of course, Monmouth, a school that has deep family ties.
“At times it can be overwhelming,” he said of the recruiting process. “But I have learned how to talk to coaches now. My brothers have been a big help and they have been very supportive because they went through it. But it was a little different for them because they knew right away where they wanted to go.”
Law not only will have to choose a school, but he may have to make the decision of whether to go to school or turn professional if he is drafted. A tough choice, for sure. He got a glimpse of the professional life when he attended a scouting combine at Citizens Bank Ballpark in Philadelphia over the summer.
“That was a great thrill because the Phillies are my favorite team. Just walking on the field and seeing where Chase Utley and Ryan Howard play was just amazing. Even if I am drafted, I’m still leaning toward college. They would have to show me a lot of zeroes on a check to change my mind at this point.”
As a child growing up, Law’s father saw potential in the big kid, who was always the tallest in his class. Said his father, “My older boys had a lot of success, but he was stronger than them at their age. Even when he was 5, you could see how hard he threw the ball. That also came from playing with his brothers. He always played with the older kids.
“As a parent, I said my kids would have every opportunity to play ball,” he added. “But it was up to them. I didn’t want to force them to play. They chose to play and it has really paid off for everyone. I’m very proud.”
Jonathan and his wife, Nancy, have been there every step of the way for their boys, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by Charles.
“They are behind everything. It is greatly appreciated. They’re our No. 1 fans and they are there for us on and off the field,” he said.
Having a supportive family is second to none, especially in the word of baseball, a game filled with failure. But if things go as planned, Law won’t see much failure and he could become The Law of the Land.
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