From dream to reality
Former juco player Kinkade finally gets to play at Suplizio
For two years, Kennedy Kinkade had hopes and dreams of playing at Suplizio Field.
The Salt Lake (Utah) Community College baseball team he was on won back-to-back conference titles and was ranked in the top two in the nation, but the Bruins failed to qualify for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
“Seeing this stadium and atmosphere here, we wanted it so bad,” Kinkade said. “That’s all we talked about, was trying to get here to the World Series. We knew we had the guys to do it, the drive to do it, but we came up a little short.”
Kinkade finally got the opportunity to play at Suplizio Field two weeks ago with the Colorado Mesa University baseball team and is starting to feel more comfortable with his new team.
The junior first baseman is hitting .364 with two doubles and two runs batted in this season. He’s played in five games. He was 3 for 4 with two doubles in the Mavericks’ series finale last weekend at Grand Canyon.
“At this point, he’s getting it done,” CMU coach Chris Hanks said.
Kinkade likely will start the Mavericks’ RMAC series opener against Colorado Christian (0-7) beginning with a doubleheader at 1:30 p.m. today at Suplizio Field. The teams play another doubleheader at noon Saturday. They will play a nine-inning and a seven-inning game each day.
Pitcher Nolan Snell will start the first game of the series for the Mavericks (6-4) today. Matt Williams will get the call on the mound in second game.
Hanks will decide the Game 3 starter Saturday after today’s games, he said. Cody Lahman, Aaron Corwin and Kyle Davis are candidates if Hanks doesn’t use them in relief today. Joey Danner will start the fourth game.
Kinkade was a fixture in the Salt Lake lineup, playing first base and hitting in the middle of the lineup, and now he is starting to get a feel for playing at the NCAA Division II level.
“In the fall, he was slow to adapt,” Hanks said. “We’ve seen that over the years with junior college players. He is getting there, but ... he’s not all the way there yet.”
Kinkade had to adjust to using aluminum bats this year. The conference Salt Lake Community College is in uses wood bats.
The biggest adjustment, though, has been to new teammates and opposing pitchers and teams.
Kinkade grew up in the Seattle metro area, but he moved to the Salt Lake City metro area for his senior year at Lone Peak High School, which won a state title that year. Although it was difficult to move for his last year of high school, it was an unforgettable experience. Former major leaguer Dale Murphy, who lives in Salt Lake City, visited with the team before the season. Murphy had two boys graduate from the same high school.
“That was awesome,” Kinkade said. “He told us how he feels about baseball and how great the game is for us. He made a big thing about doing things the right way.”
After graduation, Kinkade enrolled at Salt Lake Community College, where he moved from shortstop to first base because of an injury to the starting first baseman.
“Obviously I have different priorities around the infield,” Kinkade said. “It was different than anything I’ve ever done. Salt Lake got me adjusted. I think I finished 11th in the nation in fielding percentage last year. I had only one error the entire year.”
After his sophomore year, Kinkade started exploring his options to continue his education and play baseball.
Kinkade received a scholarship offer from an NAIA program and was looking at walking on at the University of Utah or Brigham Young University.
“That’s when I called Coach Hanks,” Kinkade said, adding he told him, “‘Look, I’d much rather come here.’ He worked with me well on that and got me out here.”
Kinkade took a campus tour during the JUCO World Series last year and watched the tournament.
“I heard about Mesa in high school,” Kinkade said. “I heard good things: big baseball town, big baseball program.
“It’s absolutely amazing. The stadium speaks for itself. The facilities are amazing. We have a hard-working team and coaches.”