Baseball From the Nashua Telegraph: "Kiro turns things around in class, on field at DWC"
This article is reprinted with permission of the Nashua Telegraph. It ran on May 13, 2012. See the original article on line by clicking here.
By TOM KING
Nashua - Kory Kiro was in a bit of trouble on the mound during an early-season outing.
This time, unlike a year or two ago, Daniel Webster College baseball coach J.P. Pyne had no worries about his ace pitcher from Goffstown.
"We were down 5-0 against Southern Vermont, and I saw how calm and composed he was," Pyne said. "I said 'three years ago, we would've been picking you up out of the woods.' "
"I had a little bit of a short temper," said Kiro, the New England Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year. "Coach Pyne taught me to keep my composure. I'm better at dealing with adversity now. It definitely has made things go well. You have to be able to battle through the bumps in the road."
Things have gone great for Kiro, who was a member of the 2008 Goffstown High School Class L championship team. In his own mind, he "never expected to be a college athlete. Ever."
Four years later, Kiro has notched his 20th career victory for the Eagles, and takes a 5-2 record and career-low 2.54 ERA with 42 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 60 innings into this week's first ever NCAA Division III tournament appearance for DWC. He signifies the great strides the school's baseball program has made – from also ran, to conference contender, to champion.
His 20-9 mark makes him the schools all-time leader in wins. He's the career leader in innings pitched (231), strikeouts (184), complete games (11) and starts (34).
In 39 appearances, he has a career ERA of 3.81, and he is the first Eagle to gain three successive first team All-Conference selections. He is the second Eagle to earn three straight All-Conference awards, as Nashua's Steve Cox was a three-time Great Northeast Athletic Conference second-team selection.
"I was so proud of him when he got his 20th win," Pyne said. "He was one of the first major building blocks for us. … When he came here the first year, I don't know if we could've beaten that Goffstown team."
Why didn't the 6-foot-1 righthander think he would be a college athlete?
Well, for one, he wasn't that academically oriented, and it prevented him from getting into a couple of schools. So after graduating from Goffstown, he sat out the fall semester, contemplated his options, and ended up giving Pyne a call.
Pyne let him know that the Eagles were academics first.
"From the first day I stepped on campus, coach Pyne told me I had to be a student-athlete," Kiro said.
Kiro then got to work and adapted that theory, with tutoring and help from his family, to the point where he has a respectable grade point average studying Homeland Security with a possible future in law enforcement.
Pyne saw a player who was worth the chance.
"When we got Kory, we knew we were getting a special player," he said. "We were concerned about his academics but he's gotten good guidance and support from his parents. We knew we'd have to monitor him closely. Now he's somebody we don't even concern ourselves about."
The next step was getting him to trust his fastball. Kiro has an assortment of off-speed stuff, and "was able to throw any pitch in any count," Pyne said. "He'd go 2-0 and throw his curve for a strike."
And thus Kiro, who also uses a slider and a changeup, learned how to speed his fastball up with his curveball.
"I just had to find that right release point," he said. "I started feeling comfortable with everything the end of my sophomore year."
What does it take to win 20 games in New England college baseball?
"A lot of grit and determination," Kiro said. "You've got to go out there and give it your all for nine innings or seven. … Coach Pyne has been there for me whenever I need to talk to him. He's the one who has really pushed me."
Kiro is reflective, wondering if this could be it for his competitive baseball career. But maybe he could catch a scout's eye at the Regionals.
"You never know who's watching," he said. "It only takes one game."
It wouldn't be the first time he continued playing the game he loves when he least expected to.