Midland's Kinker wins award
HUNTINGTON -- Cabell Midland High School baseball pitcher Seth Kinker sat on the beach Monday afternoon as part of his senior trip activities.
Kinker said there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the weather was great as he spent the time with his family.
Still, Kinker admitted his mind was elsewhere.
As he spoke, it was mid-afternoon and, while the beach was nice, Kinker would've much rather have traded in his board shorts for a baseball uniform.
"I'd like to not be here right now," Kinker said. "I'd rather be at home getting ready for the state tournament, but it's the beach. It's bittersweet because I'm sitting here but I know that I could be up there playing ball."
That attitude and demeanor was one that made Kinker a successful player on the field as a four-year player for the Knights.
His approach to the game and his control on the mound led to a 9-3 record with a 0.33 earned run average while playing a tough out-of-state schedule and in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
Those numbers helped Kinker earn the 2014 Gatorade West Virginia State Baseball Player of the Year Award announced by the company last weekend.
"It was definitely a goal of mine to get this award and to get a state championship," Kinker said. "I hate that we won't get the chance for a state championship, but I'm honored to have the award in my name. It's a major award and I was blessed to be able to work toward that award."
Kinker, who helped lead the Knights to a 21-12 record, struck out 122 batters in 84.2 innings while walking just 19 and allowing only 55 hits.
Of Kinker's three losses, two were in contests where he took hard-luck losses when he didn't give up an earned run, including the season-ending 1-0 loss to Hurricane in the Class AAA, Region IV semifinals. In that contest, he allowed just two hits to the state's No. 1-ranked team while walking two and striking out six. The only run scored in the fourth inning on an error.
Cabell Midland coach Tracy Brumfield said Kinker's mentality is one of the things that helped him be so successful.
"In the 11 years that I have been head coach, he is the most competitive player that I have ever coached," Brumfield said. "Seth also demonstrates leadership both on and off the field. In the classroom, he is at the top of his class and makes people around him better."
In addition to his strengths on the mound, Kinker also led the team in home runs (5), runs batted in (28), doubles (11) and triples (3) while also placing second in batting average (.372).
Kinker said the game that really showed him he needed to take over as a leader on the mound and at the plate was an extra-inning win over South Charleston.
"We had gone scoreless through seven and coach said for me to help myself," Kinker said. "I hit a bomb to right-center. Then and there, I felt like runs don't always come your way and sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. I pitched all nine innings and, at that time, that's when I realized I'm the leader of this team and I need to step up and take matters into my own hands."
While the numbers on the field are impressive, his numbers in the classroom are a major part of why he won the Gatorade Player of the Year award this season.
Kinker graduated with a 4.23 grade point average while maintaining membership in National Honor Society and Cabell Midland's student council. He also served as student body treasurer and volunteered for the Special Olympics and as a youth baseball instructor.
Kinker, who has committed to play baseball at Ohio State University, is the third Cabell Midland baseball player to be the Gatorade Player of the Year since 2004, joining Corey Miller (2009) and Clarence Nicely (2004).
While Kinker said he wished he was preparing for one last run with the Knights in Charleston, he couldn't have asked for more from his time at Cabell Midland.
"All good things come to an end and I've been blessed to have played for Cabell Midland the last four years," Kinker said. "I wouldn't want to play with a different group of guys.
"Having played for coach Brumfield and with the guys I played with, I wouldn't change a thing."
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