Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

April 11, 2014

BASEBALL: Hillcats celebrate Senior Day on Saturday

Native Texan hurler living out ‘Sandlot Dreams’ in Claremore

CLAREMORE — Straight out of Bedford, Texas, Kyle Duncan always envisioned his collegiate career would be spent pitching in the Big 12 Conference for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Duncan, who is one of eight seniors making their final home appearance in a Rogers State University baseball jersey, never got to don the Cowboys uniform inside Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-handed pitcher suffered a knee injury in 2011, thus forcing a redshirt season at OSU.

Though, it was a heartbreaker for Duncan, the unfortunate setback turned into a valuable learning experience and a golden opportunity for his Hillcat career.

Duncan elected to transfer to Hill College in Texas for his freshman season, and finesse his fastball under the coaching of Chris Batike.

His journey from Hill College to RSU turned into a ‘dream come true’ for the former Colleyville Heritage All-District performer that helped lead his team to the Class 5A Regional Semifinals and the district title.

Three years ago, Duncan joined an RSU baseball program that was heavily blessed with seasoned talent and competing in the toughest NAIA Division I conference (Sooner Athletic Conference).

In 2012 — his first year on the Hill — Duncan was 8-2 with a 4.01 earned run average and three complete games.

He appeared in 17 games with 13 starts for a Hillcat squad that earned the school’s first-ever NAIA Division I World Series appearance.

In 83 innings pitched that season, Duncan allowed 43 runs (37 earned) on 90 hits with 47 strikeouts and 24 walks.

The opposition hit .281 against Duncan.

That first-year was more than Duncan expected as he teamed with left-handers Shawn Spainhoward and former Owasso Rams All-State standout Brandon Bargas to form a solid arsenal that finished with a 3.81 earned run average and a 49-16 overall record.

During that 2012 season, Duncan and the Hillcats finished No. 2 overall in NAIA Division I and competed in the national championship game.

One year later, in 2013, Duncan continued his memorable journey in Claremore with the highlight of his career taking place inside the Diamond Sports Complex.

Duncan tossed a complete game in the Hillcats’ huge win over perennial powerhouse Lubbock Christian University in the NAIA Opening Round Championship.

The win over LCU guaranteed Duncan and the Hillcats another trip to the NAIA Division I World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.

During the 2013 season, Duncan started 13 of 14 games and finished with a 7-3 overall record as well as a 4.72 earned run average.

In 68.2 innings, Duncan allowed 44 runs (36 earned) on 66 hits with 42 strikeouts and 28 walks.

The flame-throwing Texan only allowed two homeruns on the season, and the opposition was .244 at the plate.

The Hillcats capped the 2013 season with a 36-24 record and were 15-13 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

And, now in his senior year, Duncan and the Hillcats are in a provisional period of transition into NCAA Division II.

Though, Duncan is unable to earn another post-season trip, he has formed plenty of memories on the mound at RSU.

Duncan started RSU’s first Heartland Conference home game against Arkansas-Fort Smith and came away with a no-decision. The Hillcats did, however, get the victory with an impressive rally late in the game.

He’s also help anchor a young squad built mostly with high school freshmen.

In their first Heartland Conference season, the Hillcats are 6-15 overall.

For Duncan, though, crossing the Red River into Oklahoma helped this Native Texan fulfill those ‘Sandlot Dreams’ in Claremore.

 

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