April 12, 2006
At East Stroudsburg South, Kevin Reese says he was "never featured" as a pitcher and just threw because they needed his arm. He was primarily a shortstop and earned All-Area honors at the position.
Now at Lafayette, Reese also wasn't listed as a pitcher when he joined the team last year. He was a third baseman and outfielder, but agreed in his own words "to help out" on the mound when the Leopards lost three pitchers through eligibility problems and injuries.
Now a year later, Reese is more than just helping out the Lafayette baseball team. He is featured as one of the team's starting pitchers and has posted a 2-1 record and 3.73 earned-run average.
He has struck out 30 batters and walked only four in 31 1/3 innings.
He was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week last week after firing a one-hit, 3-0 shutout win over St. Joseph's and striking out 10 batters in a 7 1/3 inning performance in a 5-4 win over Army.
"All of this was really unexpected," said Reese. "I never really thought about being a starting pitcher at the college level. It's a lot of fun," he said.
Reese throws four pitches, a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball, a change up and a curve.
"They all work together and work off each other," he said of his pitches. "The main thing is that you have to have a plan in your mind. Being a pitcher, you're in control of the game, even if the hitter is swinging the bat well, you want him to hit your best pitch. It doesn't matter who he is, you own the plate. He's got to adjust to you."
That type of attitude is what impresses Lafayette coach Joe Kinney.
"Kevin has that bulldog mentality or demeanor, said Kinney. "I found that out the first time he pitched last year in a game against Boston College in Florida. He went three innings in relief and he gave up a big hit at the end, but he went right after the hitters."
"He has a good arm consistently in the high 80s with a high of 91 on the gun, he throws strikes and he gets ahead in the count," the coach continued. "And along with this, he's pretty disciplined and motivated. He's a pleasure to coach."
Reese always has been around a coach. His father, Bill Reese, was the baseball coach at Stroudsburg High School for 20 years, leading the Mounties to the 1977 Colonial League championship.
"I always remember throwing a ball at some point. My dad was a big help, a big teacher; he's the one he got me started," said Reese. "I also learned a lot from watching my older brother, Billy a baseball player at DeSales and my older sister, Lauren a soccer player at Drexel play."
After competing in the East Stroudsburg Youth Association ESYA and various youth leagues, Reese played three years for the Cavaliers in baseball, football as a cornerback, wide receiver and kicker, and basketball as a shooting guard.
He could have entered college right after graduation and says he had a few offers, but decided to attend Blair Academy for a year.
"It was a late decision. I wanted to get into a better college, but although my high school grades were very good, my SAT score never matched them and I needed improve that," he explained. "I also felt an extra year under my belt athletically would help me."
Reese played football and baseball at Blair and also hit the books hard and lifted his SAT score so he had numerous college options after his post-graduate year.
"I came to Lafayette on a visit and the school stood out and seemed like a good fit for me," he said. "Both Lafayette coaches recruited me. Football gave me most of the money to come here financially and baseball helped out a little too."
Reese was a back up kicker for the 2004 Lafayette football team and played wide receiver on the Leopards' scout team.
He appeared in 13 games mainly as a reliever in baseball, winning one game and achieving what he describes as "moderate success."
He pitched for the championship Hellertown Royals in the Blue Mountain League and also for Lehigh Township in the Tri-County League last summer.
Entering his sophomore year, Reese decided to concentrate on one sport on what he calls his "first love," baseball. He was called up in an emergency by the football coaches last fall to handle kickoffs for an away game at Bucknell.
"Coach Frank Tavani came over and asked he could borrow Kevin for a week," said Kinney. "I said sure, and the first kickoff he took in the game went into the end zone. I did tell Kevin that if he tried to tackle anyone I'd kill him."
Reese, who is doing well in the classroom as an Economics and Business major, started the baseball season as part of the team's righty-lefty closing combination. He joined the starting rotation after his mid-week 100-pitch, nine-inning, almost-perfect performance against St. Joseph's.
"As a coach, you're always looking for the rotation you want and we thought with his ability and attitude, Kevin would do the job for us as a starter," said Kinney.
In his three years since high school, the 21-year-old hurler has put on 25 pounds and now weighs 200 and has added a goatee and sideburns.
"I wanted to do something different. They say facial hair is intimidating when you're on the mound. It's a baseball thing. After the season is done, I'll probably take it off," he said.
And Reese's current real baseball thing is as the fourth starter for the Leopards' weekend four-game Patriot League series. Unlike in high school, he is now featured as a pitcher.