Seven Innings with Kyle Dolecheck
Toughness — physical and mental — is a necessity for a catcher.
A fixture in Sterlington's starting lineup since his sophomore season, senior Kyle Dolecheck has exhibited the mettle required of his craft while playing through a partially torn ligament in his right (throwing) elbow.
Amazingly, the injury has had a minimal impact on his senior season.
"Kyle has done a good job of battling through the injury," said Sterlington acting head coach Bucky Chandler. "We took four days off during spring break, which I thought really helped him."
Since injuring his elbow while long tossing in September, Dolecheck has changed his throwing mechanics. Still, he's been tough to steal on.
"I don't know the percentage of runners Kyle has thrown out, but he's kind of kept the base runners at bay, which has helped us win games," Chandler said.
Offensively, Dolecheck is batting .338 with two home runs, five doubles and 16 RBI. Though Dolecheck is the first to admit that he enjoys the offensive aspect of the game more, his defensive skills are his most valuable asset.
"Kyle does a good job of blocking pitches," Chandler said. "Our pitchers have confidence to throw the curve because they know he's going to block it if they throw it in the dirt."
Chandler has witnessed Dolecheck's growth in every aspect of the game over the past three years.
"Kyle's gotten better every year," Chandler said. "He's doing everything you expect from a senior leader."
Top 1st: When did you start playing baseball?
Kyle Dolecheck: As soon as I could. I started out playing T-Ball in the Swartz Rec League.
Bottom 1st: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of baseball?
Dolecheck: My favorite part is hitting.
My least favorite part is conditioning.
Top 2nd: How did you end up being a catcher?
Dolecheck: I caught a little in pitching machine, but that doesn't really count. When I got to junior high, I was the only one on the team that had caught before and I've been catching ever since. I pitched a little, too, but I've mostly caught.
Bottom 2nd: What is the hardest part about catching?
Dolecheck: Squatting down for a whole game is hard. Blocking balls is pretty hard. You get beat up all the time, especially in tournaments where you play four games in two or three days.
Top 3rd: How is your elbow holding up?
Dolecheck: I'm playing through it.
Jacob Ponder at the Orthopedic Clinic (of North Louisiana) on Louisville taught me a new way to throw to reduce stress on my arm, which has really helped me this year.
Bottom 3rd: How has coach Randy Carr's absence affected the team?
Dolecheck: I think it has affected us in a positive way. We want to win for him and we want him to be happy when he comes back. We miss him, but he expects us to do our best.
We have two guys in coach Bucky and coach (Mark) Sims who can definitely do the job.
Top 4th: How is the pitching staff coming along?
Dolecheck: Casey (Sutton) is doing what he's supposed to do every time out. Our pitchers are finding a way to win. Ross (Lambert) is still young, but I like the way he pitches. He places the ball well. (Austin) Haman's been hurt this year, but he's still pitching pretty good. I think our staff is coming along and starting to get into the swing of things.
Bottom 4th: What has been the key to the recent hot streak? (The Panthers have won eight of their last nine).
Dolecheck: We've been hitting a lot more every day, which I think has had a big impact on our success. The pitchers have been getting people out and getting out of jams. We're not sitting down when we get behind. If the other team scores a couple of runs, we answer. We weren't doing that earlier in the year.
The big key, in my opinion, is that we're hitting the ball a lot better.
Top 5th: Who is the toughest pitcher you have faced?
Dolecheck: Greg Williams from Calvary Baptist. He throws in the upper 80s or lower 90s and has great command of his curve ball. That's pretty much all you need.
Bottom 5th: Which would you rather do, drive in a run or throw out a base stealer?
Dolecheck: I would rather drive in a run because I like batting better than playing in the field. I like both, I just like hitting better. I want to hit so bad, which is probably why I swing at bad pitches all the time.
Top 6th: Who are some of the Panthers' up-and-coming players?
Dolecheck: Devon Murphy's starting as a freshman, so he's only going to get better.
I think Ross will continue to come along as a pitcher.
Bottom 6th: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?
Dolecheck: I just want to do what I can at the plate, drive in as many runs as I can and play as good defensively as I can to help us win games. All the wins count in the power rankings.
Top 7th: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school baseball?
Dolecheck: I'm going to miss being out there with all my friends and playing the game I love. Being with my friends and winning games — that's what I like the most.
Bottom 7th: What are your future plans?
Dolecheck: I've been accepted into ULM, so that's probably where I'm going to go unless I get a scholarship for baseball. I've always wanted to play college baseball, but with my elbow, I would have to have surgery and sit out a year.
I've spent so much time at the Orthopedic Clinic, I may go into the sports medicine field. I'm thinking about majoring in kineseology or maybe being a teacher. I don't know for certain, but all of those things are on my mind.