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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Athlete of the Week: Kurt Heyer

Editor’s Note: Arizona baseball freshman pitcher Kurt Heyer had about as impressive a debut as humanly possible last Friday, as he pitched six innings of three-hit, one-run ball while striking out 13 batters en route to a 8-1 victory against Utah Valley University. Heyer’s performance earned him Pacific 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors and a “”Louisville Slugger”” National Player of the Week award by Collegiate Baseball. The Arizona Daily Wildcat caught up with Heyer to discuss his lights-out debut, his trio of nicknames and his favorite thing to sleep with the night before game day.

Daily Wildcat: Obviously a big debut for you on Friday. You got the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors and also the “”Louisville Slugger”” award with the 13 strikeouts. Has that all sunk in yet?

Kurt Heyer: Yeah, I just found out about that yesterday. My parents found out for me. At first, I was surprised about that; it’s quite an honor. I didn’t really expect to get that after only one performance, but it’s a good feeling. Hopefully I can get one later in the year maybe, if I keep progressing. Other than that, it was shocking. I didn’t think a freshman would get those things so soon, but I’m pretty happy.

What were your feelings out there on the mound?

It was everything I could hope for. It was a good feeling, starting pitcher, freshman, it doesn’t get any better than that, especially with your (season) opener and everything against a team that comes into your park that wants to take a win away from you. You want to prevent that, so I felt like it was a great game and everything and this upcoming weekend should be pretty good too.

Has coach talked at all about the rotation?

Well, it’s posted up in the locker room. Apparently, I got Friday night again because Simon threw quite a few pitches, so he’s going Saturday night. We got another pitcher pitching, Stephen Manthei, so it’s pretty good. Two freshmen in the rotation should be pretty exciting to see. It should be a good series.

Your teammates talk a lot about you being a workhorse. What does that stem from?

Well I have a good work ethic. I work hard, I try to lead by example in everything I do. I got that a lot in high school, usually guys called me workaholic or whatever. I kind of just used that as motivation for me because I don’t want to let my team down or whatever, so it’s pretty nice for my teammates to talk to me like that.

Is there an MLB pitcher that you kind of model yourself after?

Probably Nolan Ryan. I don’t have the same stuff as him, but he’s a workhorse. Everybody relies on his arm to keep battling through the inning so I like to compare myself to him sometimes.

If you could build the perfect pitcher with say three different pitches each from a different MLB pitcher, how would you do that?

I’d take probably Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Greg Maddux’s changeup and … I don’t know, I think maybe (Jake) Peavy’s slider. That’s probably the ultimate combo of pitches I would love to have.

Do you have any rituals or superstitions before games?

Yeah (laughs), I usually take the game ball the night before I pitch or whatever and I kind of keep it with me wherever I go. I sleep with it. I know, it’s kind of weird, but I’ve done that for three years so it’s never failed me once yet. Hopefully I’ll just keep doing that. I don’t want to change anything.

What started that?

It was in sophomore year of high school. It was my first game and my coach just said ‘Hey just for luck take the ball with you and sleep with it for tonight.’ I’m like ‘OK,’ so I take it and bring it back and everybody’s laughing at me, they’re like ‘Why’d you sleep with the ball’ and I’m like ‘Because the coach told me to.’ And then we won and I’m like ‘Coach, I’m sticking with that ritual’ and I’ve been that ever since so, I’d like to thank my high school coach for that one.

Talking to Kyle Simon, he said you guys pitched in the same league in high school —

He went to Los Alamitos High School, and I went to Edison High School, and we we’re both Sunset League pitchers. We’d always battle each other. I didn’t really know him that well until last summer when we played with each other on the Cardinals team and we got to know each other a little better, then I found out that he was going to Arizona, and then he found out that I was going. He was like ‘That’s pretty good, two Sunset League pitchers under one roof, that’s pretty nice.’ Hopefully we can just keep pitching the way we’re pitching like we did in high school.

If you had to pick a top-three songs that would be on your pump-up playlist before games —

Probably “”Paint it Black,”” (by The Rolling Stones), Foo Fighters’ “”The Pretender”” and maybe, “”Because of You”” by Nickelback.

If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be watching baseball games every day or maybe become like a baseball historian major, I don’t know. Or play golf a lot. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t play baseball. It would probably kill me.

Do you have a nickname at all?

I go by a few. I go by Tap Tap and Wolfgang and, shoot, what other one was it? I think that’s about it, just those two.

Any reason behind those?

Wolfgang’s my middle name, and Tap Tap is a video game I play constantly when I’m in the locker room. Everyone’s just wondering why the heck I’m playing that all of the time, so they just call me Tap Tap sometimes. Oh, one more. This was in the fall, they called me Forrest Gump because apparently I ran like him, and I talked like him a lot, so they called me that for quite a while, and then they kind of stopped. It was kind of funny for a while.

Who would be your dream girl?

Probably either Megan Fox or Tori Black. I don’t know why, she’s a hot model I guess. Megan Fox is pretty hot too, so I cant go wrong with either one of those.

What are your goals and aspirations for the rest of the season?

Give my team a chance to win every game I can. At least keep the game close where our other pitchers can keep the game going; feel good about my performance, that’s about it. I wouldn’t mind winning other honors or whatever, but only time will tell. Hopefully I just keep working hard and everything and keep doing what I’m doing.

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