ROCKTON — Matt Simpson believes Kyle Damon’s best days on the pitching mound are ahead of him. Carthage College is certainly hoping that is the case.
The Hononegah senior announced his intention to play for the college in Kenosha, Wis., at a ceremony Wednesday, becoming the latest in a long line of Indians to compete at the next level. Damon said he’s had playing baseball in college as a goal for some time.
“Last summer I went to a showcase and picked up a lot of interest from schools as the Division III level,” Damon said. “When I took my visit to Carthage, it just felt like home to me. I loved the campus and the coaches, and I think ti’s a great place to be.”
Damon, also a starter on the basketball team, said he’s hoping to be a dual threat at Carthage, similar to the role he has now with the Indians. Damon is the everyday first baseman while also serving a valuable role out of the bullpen.
“I’m definitely going to pitch,” Damon said. “But I’d like to see if I could get some time in at first base, too. My main goal in the meantime is to keep adding velocity and to be able to shore up my other pitches so I’m able to compete up there.”
Simpson said Damon’s large 6-foot-5 frame should help him at the next level.
“He’s a big kid and he’s just now starting to physically mature a little bit,” Simpson said. “We’ve seen the velocity come up quite a bit from last year, and I think there’s still another four-to-five miles per hour in there pretty easily. As he gets stronger, he’ll go from 80-to-84 this year to upper 80’s within a year with some hard work.”
Simpson said Damon, who has a 3-1 record with a 2.07 ERA while maintaining a .378 batting average to boot, has been a pleasure to coach.
“In 19 years of coaching, I haven’t encountered a nicer kid,” Simpson said. “That’s really the ultimate compliment I can pay him. When Kyle is supposed to be doing something, he’s doing it. It doesn’t matter whether a coach is watching or not, he’s always doing the right thing. He’s been a tremendous leader for us over the last two years.”
The Indians have a big week ahead. Currently in second place, after taking on Auburn Wednesday Hononegah is looking forward to a showdown with first-place Harlem Friday. Damon believes he still has a lot to accomplish before heading to college.
“This is a great group of guys,” Damon said. “I love everybody on this team. We’ve got three great pitchers other than me and I think we’ve done a great job with rotating innings. I feel like if we don’t get the conference title, it’s a wasted opportunity because we have so much depth and so much talent.”
•NOTES: Damon continues a run of recent Hononegah signees. Riley Landenberger (softball) signed with Madison Area Technical College,
Hononegah’s Kyle Damon poses with his mother Amy, father Michael and sister Mckenzie after committing to play for Carthage College.