Schneider Sets the Tone for Vols
April 21, 2015
BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services
CARTERVILLE – John A. Logan College sophomore Kyle Schneider has transformed himself from a pitching prospect into a productive position player at the collegiate level.
The Owensboro, Ky. native was recruited to pitch for the Volunteers. And although he has a fastball that has occasionally broken the 90 mph barrier, his command of the strike zone has prevented him from taking off as a top-flight hurler.
Schneider became so disenchanted with his inability to contribute as a pitcher that he contemplated quitting the game earlier this spring.
But after visiting with Vols’ head coach Jerry Halstead and assistant, Kyle Surprenant, he had a change of heart.
The coaches suggested he give the outfield another try. Schneider obliged and has made the most of the opportunity. He presently leads the team in hitting with a .367 average; is first in at bats (120); hits (44); runs scored (26); home runs (one); and stolen bases (13 without being caught once). Moreover, he is second in on-base percentage (.382) and slugging percentage (.433); and third in doubles with five.
It’s not as if playing the outfield is foreign to Schneider. He played the position throughout high school. And last year, he was pressed into duty with the Vols following a variety of injuries to his teammates.
“It was kind of an emergency situation last year when we played Kyle in the outfield and he did a nice job for us,” Halstead said. “I’m glad he stuck with the game. He’s been a pleasant surprise for us this spring. We have moved him from right to center because he is athletic, has good speed, and has a plus arm.”
Halstead said Schneider (listed at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds) has become the perfect lead-off hitter for his ballclub. When he gets on base, he is a threat to steal and frequently turns infield choppers into base hits.
“It’s taken a while to get some of the rust off, but I feel pretty comfortable in the role now,” Schneider said. “It just took me some time to get past the idea of not pitching. For whatever reason, it was always an uphill battle for me. I could never seem to put it all together. As an outfielder, I am more relaxed and I am so thankful for the chance to show what I can do.”
Schneider said the fact that he got a good amount of playing time last year helped with the transition this year.
“I’m a much more aggressive hitter this year,” he said. “I think I was more of a defensive hitter last year, a little timid at the plate. Now, if that first pitch is over the middle of the plate, I’m probably swinging. I like getting on base and scoring runs.”
Although not a home run hitter, Schneider’s one blast this year was to dead center, some 400 feet away.
“Every once in a while, I can get ahold of one if the pitcher leaves it up in the zone. Most of the time, though, I’m hitting line drives and ground balls.”
Schneider added that the Vols are coming together at the right time of the season, positioning themselves for a possible conference championship and strong postseason run.
“I fully believe we have the talent to pull it off,” he said. “If we keep doing the little things that we’re supposed to do, we should win a lot more games.”
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