Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Prior to this season the baseball background for Jayden Kies wasn’t loaded with pitching experience.
The Regina senior didn’t believe his future was full of pitching performances either.
After Kies shut down Van Meter in the semifinals of the Class 2A state tournament last week at least one of his Regina teammates believes its too early to close the book on Kies’ as a pitcher.
“He is going to college to hit but I’m pretty sure they should look at him as a pitcher now,” Regina senior Ryne Schooley said. “His curveball is really good, when he gets that over he is really, really effective.”
Kies, who will play collegiately a Luther College, figured to be a centerfielder at the next level.
That is still the plan for Kies who hit .340 with 21 RBI and 20 stolen bases this season but is open to anything after an impressive senior season on the mound.
Kies finished 6-0 with a .85 ERA as a senior after allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out 10 in a complete game win over Van Meter in the 2A semifinals last Thursday.
“I’m going to Luther to play outfield but if they need an arm sure I’ll do whatever they want,” Kies said.
That team-first attitude is what got Kies his opportunity on the mound during his senior season.
With Schooley unavailable to pitch with an arm injury the Regina rotation lost its ace from the past two seasons and was looking for depth.
Head coach Jeff Pacha turned to Kies who had pitched all of two varsity innings before this season.
“He was willing to do whatever he could to help us,” Pacha said. “He’s been a great teammate. He just wants to do whatever he can to win and our team is full of that. They all have each other’s backs.”
Kies tossed a one-hit, five-inning shutout in his first start against Algona Garrigan.
From that point on Kies was rolling.
“I pitched the first time at the Catholic Schools tournament against Garrigan and we won that game in five innings and I pitched a shutout and it was just like ‘where did that come from’?” Kies said. “That definitely gave me confidence going forward.”
Kies followed with a four-hit shutout of Durant and followed with wins over Liberty High, Northeast, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.
“USSSA I pitched a lot but I could never get past the third or fourth inning,” Kies said. “Being able to pitch six or seven innings almost every time I go out is huge for our arms. Thankfully I’ve been able to step up to that.”
The best performance of Kies’ career came in the semifinal win over Van Meter.
He struck out a career-high 10 while helping Regina return to the title game for the first time since 1994 where Regina fell to Centerville 4-3.
“It’s a blessing having him step into the second pitcher role,” Regina ace Mitch Gahan. “We needed that this year and he stepped and for him to come up and not pitching a lot and to do what he has done is great. It shows what an athlete he is and what he can do.”
The semifinal pitching performance was part of a strong state tournament in which Kies added two hits, three RBI and three runs in three games.
“He’s been big for us,” Pacha said. “All around he’s a good player, a leader and a great teammate.”