Duncan leads All-Lakeland picksPublished 8:48am Thursday, June 12, 2014
Just being on the field was quite an accomplishment this year for Brandywine baseball player Kyle Duncan.
Duncan’s senior season appeared in jeopardy after what took place on the mound in the Bobcats’ fourth game against Centreville.
“My arm felt fine the whole time,” said Duncan. “In the seventh inning I threw a curveball and felt a pop. It felt like somebody had stabbed me in the elbow. I then threw a fastball and it felt like the same speed as a changeup. I then told coach to take me out.”
Duncan went to see a specialist and the news wasn’t good.
“He said the tests showed that I very likely had a tear in the ulnar ligament in my elbow and that I was a likely candidate for Tommy John surgery,” Duncan said.
Duncan elected to hold off when it came to surgery and taking a year to recover. His doctor recommended that he stopped playing baseball because of the further damage that could take place in the elbow from throwing.
The doctor added if Duncan wanted to keep playing his best positions would be spots that didn’t involve long throws, like second base or first base or not playing a position at all and being a designated hitter.
“I wanted to be a part of the team and help the team,” Duncan said. “I don’t like quitting. I wanted to stick through it.”
Duncan became a starting second baseman after spending his three years on the varsity as a pitcher and shortstop.
“He wanted to play,” said Brandywine baseball coach Dave Sidenbender. “He didn’t want to waste his senior season.
“He started at second base and did a really nice job.”
Duncan batted .365 with 12 RBIs and four doubles this season. Before he got hurt, Duncan owned a 2-1 record pitching with a 0.97 earned run average. He struck out 21 batters of 14 1/3 innings.
Those numbers helped Duncan earn an All-Lakeland Conference selection.
Other area players that made the team are outfielders Seth Brown (Brandywine), Zach Grishaber (Brandywine), Alex Leiter (Buchanan) and Dalton Riddle (Buchanan), infielders Lance Sheteron (Cassopolis), Vashaun Morgan (Cassopolis) and Cole Searles (Brandywine), pitcher Matt Vaughn (Brandywine), catcher Chad Adkerson (Buchanan) and at-large selections Christian Hall (Buchanan), Chandler Plew (Brandywine) and A.J. Green (Cassopolis).
“The injury didn’t affect me when I was hitting,” Duncan said. “It affected me more defensively. I thought I did pretty well playing second base.”
Duncan helped Brandywine finish 17-8 with its first Lakeland Conference title since 2010 and its first district win since 2008.
“His power numbers were down (Duncan hit .438 with 33 RBIs, six doubles and two triples as a junior), but being the number three hitter you’re going to see different pitches,” Sidenbender said. “Teams knew who he was and they didn’t want him to beat them.
“He still had some big hits for us and he was a consistent player for us. He’d do whatever it took to help us win a game. He was the consummate team player. He set a good example for his teammates.”
Duncan had one regret this season and it had nothing to do with his injury.
“I wish we would have beaten Buchanan in the end,” said Duncan, whose team fell to the Bucks, 9-8, in a district semifinal game. “That was very disappointing.”
Seth Brown, Brandywine
Zach Grishaber, Brandywine
Alex Leiter, Buchanan
Dalton Riddle, Buchanan
Matt Hendricks, Bridgman
Nick Knowlton, Bridgman
Lance Sheteron, Cassopolis
Vashaun Morgan, Cassopolis
Kyle Duncan, Brandywine
Cole Searles, Brandywine
Matt Vaughn, Brandywine
Tyler Gnodtke, Bridgman
Chad Adkerson, Buchanan
Christian Hall, Buchanan
Chandler Plew, Brandywine
A.J. Green, Cassopolis