Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stepping Up Was the Right Move for Doane and the Bucs

For three years ETSU’s Kerry Doane was positioned in the ETSU infield, providing encouragement and leadership from behind whoever the Bucs’ hurler happened to be.

Now the senior is front and center in more ways than one.

Doane – who was a unanimous first team A-Sun All-Conference selection – also captured ETSU’s first-ever Pitcher of the Year honor as the conference baseball honors were released Tuesday afternoon.

Doane is one of five Buccaneers on that list, which is his first A-Sun All-Conference First Team honor. Recently, he was honored with membership to another important list, that being the 22-player watch list as a candidate for National Pitcher of the Year.

Not a bad “step up” for a pitcher who played behind the mound for three years.

Making the move to a full-time starting pitcher has paid huge dividends not only for Doane in 2013, but for his Bucs as well. He went 12-1 with a 2.07 ERA (28 ER/122.0 IP) with a NCAA-leading total of 11 complete games and four shutouts. ETSU entered the A-Sun Baseball Championship as the No. 4 seed with a 32-22 overall record and a 17-10 mark in A-Sun play.

As a freshman, Doane made an immediate impact for the Bucs, earning membership to the A-Sun All-Freshmen team after hitting .335 with nine home runs and 58 RBI and playing in all 60 games with 59 starts in the infield. Over the next two seasons, he started 109 games in the infield and saw limited action on the mound, including 18 appearances with six starts last season.

The decision to become a full-time pitcher was one that Doane seemed to make with little hesitation. Bucs Head Coach Tony Skole says the move to the mound was right in step with Doane’s character.

“Coach Skole and I talked about it and I said, fine, it is for my team,” said Doane. “If it was going to help my team out and give us chance to win the conference, then I was all for it. “I just want our team to do something that we haven’t done here before.”

“He is a baseball player in every sense of the word,” said Skole. “He is a very passionate, very selfless young man. And he is a great student as well as a fine player.”

Doane was also an A-Sun All-Academic selection as a junior.

“He sacrificed a lot to come out and be our Friday night guy,” Skole continues, “because he likes to hit and he likes to play every day.”

Although his three-year career at shortstop was impressive, Doane’s talent on the mound is undeniable.

Getting his first-ever start on the mound in an A-Sun Championship game, Doane went nine innings, faced 33 batters and struck out five with a double as the only extra-base hit he allowed. He allowed only a pair of earned runs, and the Bucs pulled off extra-inning heroics to defeat host Stetson, 4-3.

His season’s numbers are much more impressive. He is tied for second in the NCAA in wins and leads all NCAA pitchers in innings pitched and shutouts, while also tying the ETSU single-season records for shutouts and complete games. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native became the first A-Sun pitcher to win 12 games since former Stetson and current Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber and Buccaneer hurler Caleb Glafenhein accomplished the feat in 2007. The wins are also tied for 11th among A-Sun single-season leaders.

“He has a quick arm,” says Skole, “he is 90 to 94 (miles per hour), has a power slider and he has worked on his curve ball to give him another dimension.”

Two of Doane’s four shutouts were against A-Sun teams as he blanked Lipscomb 8-0 with a career-high eight strikeouts on April 12, while also shutting out then-No. 21 Mercer on May 10 in Macon. Meanwhile, the four shutouts are the most by any active A-Sun pitcher and are tied for seventh all-time in conference history.

Doane also made a start against every A-Sun team and went 8-1 with a 2.37 ERA (20 ER/76.0 IP) in nine starts, while closing out the season with nine straight wins. In total, Doane tossed 118 of the 126.0 possible innings pitched in his 14 starts, and became the first Buccaneer pitcher to win multiple Pitcher of the Week awards.

While his contributions from the mound have led the Bucs to success all season, Skole understands how much he will miss Doane when this weekend comes to end for ETSU.

“He is a warrior in every sense of the word,” says Skole. “ He is a great teammate, a great student and a great leader for our team.”

There are likely more accomplishments and accolades awaiting Doane, both from an individual standpoint and for his team. As of his first pitch today the Bucs have never claimed an A-Sun Baseball Championship, but their win today has them one step closer to that milestone.

Even so, for Doane the approach that has led him to this season’s record-setting success is playing as if you are only as good as your last performance.

“Baseball is a difficult game to play, and with the law of averages you never know,” says Doane. “One game you will be good and the next one is like, ‘wow,’ they really just got to me. You really just have to work move on to the next game and work hard toward it.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Atlantic Sun blog welcomes all comments, critiques and questions. We only delete those comments that are abusive, off-topic, use excessive foul language, or include ad hominem attacks. We pre-moderate comments on our blog posts.