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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pitching to a new level

Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat
Rodney Haas
Rodney Haas Arizona Daily Wildcat

Every pitching ace possesses those competitive urges that say, “”give me the ball, and let me go to work.””

But Arizona freshman ace Kurt Heyer takes that competitiveness to an entirely new level.

The 6-foot-2 right-hander out of Huntington Beach, Calif., actually sleeps with the game ball every night before he pitches.

“”I usually take the game ball the night before I pitch, and I keep it with me wherever I go. I sleep with it,”” Heyer said. “”I know it’s kind of weird, but I’ve done that for three years, so it’s never failed me once yet.””

Since his sophomore year of high school, Heyer has been cuddling closely with the baseball on game-day eve, a trend that started after his Edison High School coach simply asked him to do so.

But Heyer’s pregame habit doesn’t come as a surprise to his coaches and teammates. It’s a direct reflection of the work ethic and competitive nature that he possesses.

“”Kurt Heyer — he’s a freak,”” said sophomore catcher Jett Bandy. “”On Thursday night, he gets his game ball, and he walks around with it all night. Guaranteed he sleeps with it. He carries it around school, just flipping it and getting a feel.

“”Great work ethic,”” Bandy added. “”Kurt Heyer is just unbelievable.””

Heyer simply has no off button. When he was blasted in the side of the head with a 110 mph line drive against California earlier in the season, he was down for a few minutes but actually got up, threw a warm-up pitch and insisted on returning to the game.

Heyer is a competitor on the field but the definition of a quirky superstar off the field. With Six wins, a 2.09 ERA and one of the Pacific 10 Conference’s best arms, Heyer retains the aura of your average college freshman.

“”You know what, he’s a good kid, man,”” said head coach Andy Lopez. “”He exemplifies a lot of what this program is right now. He exemplifies it because you know he’ll look you right in the eye.””

There is no question that Heyer is a bit of a character. He’s always playing games on his phone and not a day goes by where he isn’t watching movies.

“”He’s watching movies all the time,”” said freshman pitcher and Heyer’s roommate Augey Bill. “”We’ll just be in our room, and he’ll just start talking about a random movie.””

“”God he watches a boatload of movies,”” Lopez added. “”He’s got a little bit of a different personality. He’s a unique young man.””

Although he isn’t your average Friday-night college baseball pitcher off the field, he is nothing short of an ace when he steps on the rubber. Heyer is second in the Pac-10 in ERA, third in strikeouts and fifth in wins, while boasting a ridiculous 76 stikeouts to only 12 walks.

He’s exceeded all expectations on and off the mound and will only improve, thanks to his workhouse mentality. Any time practice is being held or a game is on tap, you can bet that Heyer will be the first one to the field, whether he’s pitching or not.

“”He’s bound and determined to be successful,”” Lopez said after Heyer struck out 14 against Washington State. “”The guy’s out here doing dry work every single day way beyond every other pitcher. We’re fortunate to have him in our uniform.””

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