One Pitch Away!
Being a pitcher in baseball is like being a quarterback or a point guard in that you are always the center of attention. For many years, Kyle Collin knows that feeling. As a pitcher for the North Hardin Trojans, he has seen the good times and the bad times and the growing pains of a team which at one time was one of the top dogs in the 17th District.
Since 2006, which was the last time the Trojans won a District Title and a Region title, Kyle was just starting Grade School, but he is aware of the history thanks to his current head coach Ace Adcock.
Adcock was a senior member of the last 5th Region team to win a Region title and reach the KHSAA State Tournament during the old semi-state format.
Collin, who began his love for the game at age 3 in the Rineyville Peanut League system admits that it wasn’t his Dad, but actually his Mother, who played softball at North Hardin many years ago that got him interested in the sport. “I’m sure my Dad won’t like this, but it was my Mom that got me interested in baseball. She says I got my talent from her.”
Although a baseball player at heart, basketball was a sport he also enjoyed because of the pace and he admitted that he loved to sit behind the three point line and shoot.
When he was brought up as a fifth-grader to the North Hardin system, Adcock was his first high school coach and still remembers the developmental years and he actually played behind the plate as a catcher in several games. That experience definitely helped him to understand the role of a pitcher. “It was a learning experience and seeing how the ball breaks to the outside on pitches. Like on a curve ball, sometimes it dips to the outside and on others it might have more movement.”
Being on the North Hardin baseball team the last several seasons meant usually finishing third in the district, because playing in front of them were two of the best teams in the state in Elizabethtown and Central Hardin and since 2014, every game in the District Semi-finals was pretty much a nightmare, but finally in 2017 and 2018, which were Collin’s sophomore and junior years, the Trojans were getting closer. They lost to Elizabethtown 2-1 in 2017 and to Central Hardin 3-2 in heartbreaking fashion the following year. That season, Collin found his every changing roll continuing to expand as he and Justin Manley became the top two pitchers on the team. When not on the mound, Collin would play any infield position and had become a dangerous hitter at the plate as the Trojans were tops in runs allowed in the Region in 2018 with just 97 enemy runners crossing the plate.
2019 was the season everything finally came together as the Trojans ran the table in the District going 8-0 in the regular season and a couple of faces (one old and the other new) made an immediate impact as senior Andrew Henderson, who missed the entire 2018 season because of an injury went 7-0 on the mound and junior transfer Parker Estes stepped in and had seven wins himself. Add Seth Yates’ 7-1 record and the Trojans were a different team with plenty of pitching. As for Collin, he still got his starts going 5-1, but his bigger value was as a closer getting 5-saves and compiling an ERA of 0.48. Collin embraced the role as a reliever getting to come in late and throw a couple of innings, which because of pitch count rules would allow him to throw several straight games and make a bigger contribution with Henderson, Estes and Yates pitching well that season. The last time he was a reliever (middle or otherwise) was as a middle schooler.
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Oh Yes! He was still pretty good at the plate batting .358 with 48-hits, 51-runs, 22-RBI’s and 3-HRs. One in particular stands out which would be the shot he hit to right field against Central Hardin in the team’s second regular season meeting.
Baseball was fun for Kyle Collin as he and the Trojans were having a dream season as they won going away against John Hardin in the semi-finals of the District tournament at Elizabethtown and pulled off a pretty strange play to get the final out in the 8-5 win over Central Hardin in the District final. When the ricochet out ended the game, it marked a first as it may have been the first time (in recent history) that North Hardin had ever beaten Central Hardin three times in a season.
North Hardin was in the Region Tournament for the first time since 2013 (when they hosted) and after strong wins over Marion County and Green County only one team stood in their way. Unfortunately, Taylor County had an answer for the North Hardin riddle and won 4-2. It was actually another reliever turned starter Griffin Hall, who threw a complete game win as the Cardinals advanced to the State Tournament. Collin did play getting on base and coming home on Estes’ home run and relieved starter Seth Yates, but it was a sad ending to a great high school career. Still, it was a much better ending than the last several years.
Fact Facts About Kyle Collin –
– He dates a Softball player (Danielle Thompson) and has tried slapping away on a softball pitcher. “I struck out three times.”
– Green Monster : Every ballpark has an identity and North Hardin has the WALL. “I’ve hit one over this year. Coach would tell us on our last round (during batting practice) to go ahead and swing at the wall so we do and it’s fun.”
– Red Sox fan – His dad took him to Fenway once and he fell in love with the park because the Green Monster reminded him of the WALL at North Hardin.
– David Ortiz is a player he’d like to play a game with. “I’ve idolized Ortiz because he hits the ball hard and try to pattern my style after him.”
– Football is a sport he would have liked to play because of it’s atmosphere. “There are so many people that come to the games here at North Hardin and it’s just a great atmosphere for football.”
– Louisville Football is a favorite. “I really like Lamar Jackson and have seen him play a couple times. What he has done at Baltimore is really great.”
– Baseball is a HARD sport to play. “I’ve heard that you can throw any baseball player into another sport and they might be able to play, but throw an athlete into baseball and it’s difficult, because hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do. Whether it’s a fastball, curve or slider you don’t know what to expect.”
– Two of the hardest balls hit off Collin were this season. “Jack Bibb from Central Hardin and the guy from Taylor County (Dawson Cole) went over the wall against me and they hit it pretty hard.”
– Maybe it’s not the pitchers. Collin believes that the reason there are not as many great pitchers is because hitters are better. ”You see that home runs and batting averages this year are off the charts, the hitters are better. Batters are getting better swings, too.”
– Pitch Counts: “High school guys don’t usualIy go over a 100-pitches. In baseball, you have to take care of yourself and it’s hard to go back out and pitch if your arm doesn’t feel well. I don’t think I’ve ever finished the game at North Hardin as a starter and our coaches are really good at keeping our guys down with pitch counts. The rules state that you can’t pitch after a certain amount of days after you’ve thrown a certain number of pitches.”
Kyle Collin is about to start his second life is baseball at Lindsey Wilson University. He will be playing baseball and hopefully will get his degree and begin his third life afterwards. Pitchers always believe they are always “One Pitch Away” from either getting that big out or being taken out, so in that aspect Collin has been fortunate that the coach hasn’t made a visit out to the mound to ask for the ball as of yet.
So, for the Sporting Times Spring Male Athlete of the Year, the season ended on the last weekend of May instead of the third week of the same month. For the guy, who’s still one pitch away, the inning continues.