March 12, 2003
As the Darton Cavaliers third base coach, Jamie Corr gets to hear a lot of what is said in the opposing team's dugout. But when sophomore Michael Kierce is on the mound, the conversation seems to always follow the same dialogue. "(I hear) A lot of uh, get this little sucker off the mound type stuff," Darton assistant coach Jamie Corr said.
But getting to Kierce is something no team on the Cavs schedule this year has been able to do. The sophomore is 3 and 0, and boasts an un-human like earned run average of 0.33. Sophomore pitcher Michael Kierce said, "I know what I can do and I know what I can't do, so basically you just have to stick with what you can do, and that's throwing strikes."
But what makes Kierce's statistics this year so shocking is that they are coming a year after major arm surgery sidelined him for the entire 2002 season. "(I've) Never had arm problems in my life, and one pitch something popped," Kierce said.
Renowned Birmingham surgeon Dr. James Andrews performed 'Tommy John' surgery on Kierce in December of 2001. "When you look at the major league baseball players that have had this surgery and they've come back and done really well, it gives you a lot of hope," Kierce added.
Eight months of rehab later, including four without even picking up a baseball, Kierce was back on the mound. "To come out here and watch the team that you're supposed to be playing on, come out and play, it's definitely hard. Doing that made me want to work hard and just come back quicker," Kierce said.
"The job he's doing on the mound is really rubbing off on the other people on the pitching staff. And they're just responding to what he does and his leadership role and everyone is really stepping up his game," Corr said.
Including catcher Matt Rucker, a former high school teammate of Kierce's at Sherwood Christian Academy, and someone who the right hander attributes much of his success to. The Cavs can only hope that success continues to spread.
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