WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Senior Gus Lucas likes to hit.

But he loves to pitch.

Last year, a sore arm kept the lefty off the mound as Washington marched to state. This year his pitching is a huge reason why the Panthers are returning to the the class 3A state finals.

“Last year was a tough year for me,” Lucas admitted. “It felt great to help the team with my bat, now I can help with my arm as well. Pitching is my thing. It’s good to use my thing to help the team.”

Lucas is one victory from tying the school record for wins in a season set when Allen Sepich won 12 for the 2007 team that took third at state. And he’ll pitch Friday’s state semifinal game against Chatham Glenwood.

“The coaches trust me with it, the team trusts me. I’m just very excited,” said Lucas. “I didn’t get to pitch lasts year. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

It’ll be an early morning for Lucas. The Panthers will play in the first semifinal of the weekend on Friday at 10 a.m. in Joliet.

“He was amped-up to pitch against Morton in the sectional championship game,” said Washington coach Kyle Wisher. “I’m sure he’ll be just as amped up on Friday to pitch against Chatham.”

Lucas has signed to play at Bradley next year. He’s looking forward to his days as a college pitcher.

But he has one huge start left in his high school career and he wants to go out with a bang.

“The fact I know it’s my last start. Sometimes you go out there and don’t know it’s your last start,” Lucas said. “I give every start my all, but the last one will be very special for me.”