Story written by: Robby Floyd
Webster’s baseball coaches expect Kyler Kent to have plenty of eyes on him this year. The first baseman had a record-breaking season last year.
Kent set a new all-time hit record in 2018 with 83 hits, up from 75. He also led the team in homeruns with six and runs batted in (RBI) with 46 according to Webster Athletics.com.
Bill Kurich, Webster’s head baseball coach, attributed Kent’s success to increased self-belief going into the season.
“I don’t think anyone could have ever predicted that he was going to break the school record for hits. He started the season with a ton of confidence and really never looked back,” Kurich said.
Kent will enter his junior season as an All-American. He started last season with only 37 at bats in his college career. Kurich said he is interested to see how Kent will react to his new reputation among the rest of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC.)
“[Kent] is not going to sneak up on anyone this year. He’s been on every All-American list and every opponent will know exactly that he is going to be a dangerous hitter for us. He is going to get pitched differently this year and will have to make those adjustments,” Kurich said.
“I think it’s going to [change my approach.] If people know who you are they’re going to pitch you differently. I’m going to have to adjust my mental game a little bit to adjust to that, I can’t go in [to the season] trying to do what I did last year,” Kent said.
Kent feels the most important thing he’ll need to change this season is not trying to do more than he is capable of doing and doing what is going to help the team most by putting team success over individual achievement.
He spent this off-season in the New York Collegiate Baseball League where he played for the Hornell Dodgers under head coach Read Brown. Kent made the league’s all-star game. Brown said what really set Kent apart from everyone else is the way he prepares.
Kent practically lived in the batting cage and studied his previous at-bats to be successful, Brown said. Kent thinks that this benefited him by taking at bats in a game situation against good pitching. Kurich agreed and said he thinks Kent will grow as a player from his experience in this league after facing Division I and II pitchers.
Kent’s main goal, more than any individual achievement, is to win the Division III World Series. Webster has won the SLIAC regular season championship 13 times. The Gorloks are also three-time NCAA Regional Champions (2012, 2013, and 2015.)
“Kyler has the attitude of ‘I don’t care who you are, I’m going to beat you.’ Nothing seemed to bother him, nothing ever seemed to bring him down. No matter what happened before, he was going to come to the batter’s box and attack like it was the first battle,” Brown said.
The season kicks off on Feb. 22 in Memphis against Transylvania University. The home opener for the team is against Buena Vista University on March 1 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.