Horizon baseball uses solid team chemistry to formulate success

Pitcher Colin King tosses out a pitch during Horizon’s 5–3 home win over Mountain Ridge Wednesday, April 12. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Most creations need time to set into place before they can reach their full potential and that is no different with the Horizon High School baseball team.

As of Friday, April 14, the Huskies are basking in a 20–3–1 record and have recently drummed out a four-game winning streak to rank among some of the top teams in 6A. With all this success on his hands, head coach Eric Kibler said he thinks his team is enjoying the effects of many years of playing together.

“These kids have played together since they were little kids, so that chemistry developed a long time ago and has increased,” he said in an April 13 interview.  “They care for each other a lot, they pull for each other, they’re not willing to give anything up. I think that is the key, they’ve played together for so much that they want it so much for each other.”

This familiarity has led to a strong bulwark of team chemistry, one that pitcher Colin King said has pushed the team to a high level.

“I just want to emphasize how good our team chemistry is this year,” he said. “I know everybody is enjoying the season. Even our role players are doing a good job coming off the bench, knowing their job and everybody’s contributing.”

King is part of a solid pitching rotation of which Coach Kibler said is one of the team’s biggest strengths.
As of Friday, April 14 morning, Horizon as a team has an earned run average of 3.05 and a total of 157 strikeouts, according to statistics on MaxPreps.com.

King has dialed up a 2.15 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 45 and two-thirds innings pitched to pace the rest of the rotation. King is one of three Husky pitchers with an ERA of 3.0 or lower and one of four pitchers with 20 or more strikeouts.

Horizon outfielder Sam Brown jogs to the dugout after an out during Horizon’s 5–3 home victory Wednesday, April 12 over Mountain Ridge High School. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

King said the key to the pitching crew’s success is an aggressive approach from the mound.

“We like to get ahead early that way we get them to swing at maybe a breaking pitch or get a ground ball to get the out,” he said.

Another aspect King said makes his job a lot easier is the trust he has for the defense behind him, especially in the outfield. King credits four-year starting centerfielder Evan Williams as being the anchor in the outfield.
King was not the only one to notice and appreciate the outfield’s contributions.

“Our defense out there is one of the best we’ve had here,” Coach Kibler said. “That’s really helped our pitchers, obviously. They have a lot more confidence that if a ball goes out there, it’s going to get caught.”

While Coach Kibler doesn’t see much wrong with his team’s defensive and pitching efforts, he would like some improvements in the team’s hitting. The team has a season batting average of .318 and have recorded an average of three runs per game over its past five.

Along with this, Coach Kibler said he would like to see his team play loose and have fun in the game over the rest of the regular season. The Huskies play their final regular season game Monday, April 24.

Through King and the rest of the team, it appears Coach Kibler’s wish is becoming a reality.

“This is the most fun I’ve had in awhile playing baseball,” King said. “It’s the best team chemistry I’ve seen in the three years I’ve been on varsity. We’ve been playing together most of us since eighth grade, a lot of guys since little league. We play ping pong in the clubhouse before games. We do competitions at the end of practice every day. It’s just been a lot of fun this year.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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