Carter Fichter's change-up baffles more than batters.

It also confounds the kid who throws it.

"I can't figure it out," Fichter, a senior at Haddonfield, said of his sudden mastery of the pitch. "I don't know why it's so good this season. I didn't change anything.

"But it's on fire."

A greatly improved change-up. A few extra miles per hour on his fastball. A little extra bite on his curveball.

Impeccable command. An increase in confidence. The urgency that drives a 12th grader on a team with high expectations.

For Fichter, those have been the ingredients to a spectacular start to his senior season.

The righthander is 5-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He has 41 strikeouts and one walk in 232/3 innings. He has allowed seven hits, and his WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) is an astounding .324.

"He's blossomed," Haddonfield coach Bob Bickel said. "He's learned how to pitch rather than just throw."

Fichter might be confused by his change-up, but he knows the source of his overall success: He has worked hard, and he has been encouraged and motivated by his teammates.

"It's like I've been building up to this point and now I'm acting on it," Fichter said. "It's finally clicking, and I'm getting big results."

The 6-foot, 160-pound Fichter said his faith in his teammates has been a big factor.

Haddonfield is 11-3, with firm command of the Colonial Liberty race and clear status as one of the teams to beat in South Jersey Group 2. On Tuesday, the Bulldogs locked down their first berth in the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic in three years.

"We've got great senior leadership and good young players," Fichter said. "We all sat down at the first practice of the year, and we talked about what we can do this year.

"We know what we're capable of. We're determined to go out and do it."

Fichter said the strength of the team behind him has allowed him to flourish on the mound.

"I'm just being relaxed and staying within myself," Fichter said. "I know I can throw strikes. I know the guys can make the plays behind me.

"If something goes wrong or maybe there's a call I don't like, I don't hang my head. I just take a deep breath and keep pitching."

Fichter's command has been remarkable. Bickel said Fichter has shown the ability not just to throw strikes but also to locate his pitches precisely.

"If we ask him to throw a pitch on the outside corner, he throws a pitch on the outside corner," Bickel said.

Fichter was part of a celebrated Haddonfield Little League team that reached the state finals a few years ago. Many of those players now are members of a high school squad that is seeking similar success.

"This team reminds me of that team," Fichter said. "We're trying to do the same thing."