By Jeremy McDonald
MOUNT ANGEL, Ore.– Kennedy Head Coach Kevin Moffat described three things with Ethan Kleinschmit as they prepare for their 2A/1A State Quarterfinal bout with Monroe.
First is his work ethic, second is his poise on the mound and three is his command of the strike zone coming off Kleinschmit’s two-inning, 29-pitch performance Wednesday against Grant Union/Prairie City. A 13-0 win for the Trojans.
“He’s been working really hard and put in a lot of effort. Taking care of his arm. It’s hard to rattle him. The situation never seems to get to him or is too big for him,” Moffat said. “He just commands the strike zone, throwing strike-after-strike.
“And it doesn’t hurt when he’s doing that and our defense feels really, really good. They believe in him and in-turn makes them better. I think it’s a benefit of a good defense as well. He’s mentally tough, he earned it. He’s worked hard.”
But as Moffat alluded to as they wrapped up practice Thursday, it’ll take all nine players to make it happen. So the confidence within them has helped the junior in Kleinschmit feel confident in his stuff, not just yesterday and going into Friday’s game, but throughout the season as he’s tallied nearly 43 innings on the bump with 93 strikeouts to back up his defense.
“They’ve been locked down. I don’t have to worry about striking everyone out, I know they’ll make the plays,” Kleinschmit said of his defense.
A lot of offseason work went into helping Kleinschmit improve with his velocity on his pitches. Moffat points to seeing a steady increase in the mph of the junior’s fastball this season, and being efficient has not just helped Kleinschmit, but the whole pitching staff as a whole.
With the bulk of their arms juniors this year, with Kleinschmit and Andrew Cuff at the helm with senior Riley Cantu, being efficient this time of the year has helped Kennedy as all three pitchers will be eligible after their short-outing in the Sweet 16.
“It was a good way to get momentum and to get everyone some innings to be ready for the upcoming games,” Kleinschmit said. ” We stepped up big (with) losing Dyl(an Kleinschmit), but we’ve figured it out and figured out how to get it done.”
DK as the older Kleinschmit was called last season was Kennedy’s top arm, and the younger brother in Ethan seemed to have picked up the mojo from his older brother. There’s no nervousness, just excitement as the prepare to play the Dragons at 4:30pm at Kennedy High School.
“I’m not nervous, I’m always excited. We’ll come out and play some good baseball and get it done,” Ethan Kleinschmit said.
As for who’s better between him and Dylan.
“Oh me for sure,” smiles the younger Kleinschmit.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald