Growing up in Texas, Lance Broadway acknowledged that his first instinct as a young pitcher was to throw hard like fellow Texans Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. And when that didn't work, his solution was to throw even harder.

But after three years of playing baseball at the college level, Broadway is a lot smarter and whole lot better. In fact, the 6-foot-4, right-hander from Texas Christian University has been one of the most dominating pitchers in college baseball this year.

The junior communications major had a 12-1 record and 125 strikeouts for the Horned Frogs, both TCU records, going into his start against No. 1 Tulane on Thursday. He also had three complete games and a 1.94 ERA, giving up just 70 hits, 30 walks and 27 runs over 93 innings.

His transformation as a college player has been remarkable. As a freshman at Dallas Baptist University, he went 5-7 with a 4.60 ERA. He then followed that with a 10-2 record and a 2.82 ERA in his sophomore season at Dallas Baptist, setting the stage for this year's breakout performance following his transfer to TCU.

When asked to account for his steady improvement, Broadway is quick to credit good coaching.

"I actually listen to what my coaches might tell me," he explains. "I try to buy into what they're selling. You've got to throw in and out, up and down -- locate. Earlier in my career, I used to try to throw it by people."

While he can muscle a 91-92 mph fastball by almost any hitter, Broadway said without hesitation that his best pitch is his curveball "because I can locate it where I want to most of the time."

In addition, he works hard "to own the inside part of the plate."

"That's where I need to be," he said of pitching inside. "If they're doing it at the Major League level, why not do it here?"

A native of Grand Prairie, neighboring Arlington where the Texas Rangers play their home games, Broadway had a typical Texas boyhood. In addition to baseball, he played football and basketball in high school, explaining that he was, at best, an average player in those other sports. He also has a passion for hunting and fishing.

Baseball, though, has always been the closest to Broadway's heart. He said the pace of the game best suits his easy-going, relaxed personality.

"My goal is to play in the Major Leagues," said Broadway. "I've always wanted to make it, but I never had the type of success I wanted until now. Last year, things started to click because I started to have success. So I said to myself, 'Let's get serious.'"

The result is that he's now in the running for the Golden Spikes Award, which is presented annually to the top amateur baseball player by USA Baseball in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Players Association. The fact that he's listed among the top candidates on USA Baseball's "Watch List" of potential winners is a bit overwhelming for Broadway.

"This whole process is new to me," Broadway said.

But given his talent, the national attention is not likely to fade away anytime soon.

Dean Golembeski is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.