Though he had a solid freshman season at the University of Rio Grande, West graduate Brady Knittel will return home to pitch at Shawnee State next season.
In his first year of college ball, Knittel appeared in 10 games for the RedStorm this season, making six starts while amassing a 2-1 overall record. He struck out 13 batters in 30 total innings throughout the 2015 season.
The highlight of Knittel’s year came in the postseason, as the RedStorm — second-place finishers in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during the regular season — barreled through the KIAC postseason tournament and defeated Indiana University-Southeast for a spot in the NAIA World Series.
In the World Series, the RedStorm (who finished 35-22 on the season) notched wins against Southeastern (Fla.), Auburn Montgomery and Bryan (Tenn.) in Daytona Beach, Fla. before bowing out of the double-elmination regional tournament.
But soon after the season ended, Knittel decided he needed a change of scenery.
“(Rio) just wasn’t a fit. It just wasn’t it for me,” he said.
Knittel decided to transfer to Shawnee State and join the baseball program there. Though Rio Grande defeated the Bears in three of the four games the teams played this year, Kinttel was impressed with Shawnee State’s program.
“Watching them as we played them — how disciplined and what a good program they are — it shows whenever we play them,” Knittel said.
In order to prepare for his homecoming with the Bears, Knittel has spent the summer working with the Waverly Post 142 baseball team, where he’s developed into one of the team’s veteran leaders.
“I try to be (a leader),” he said.
He’s also been one of the Shockers’ most reliable pitchers. He’s thrown 26.2 solid innings for Post 142 this season with a 3.41 ERA while striking out 15 batters.
Knittel’s biggest appearance for the Shockers this season came on Monday, when he threw 125 gutsy pitches in Post 142’s comeback win over Circleville Post 134 in the Region 5 tournament. Despite playing with suspect defense behind him (Waverly committed four errors in the first two innings), Knittel bounced back to keep the Panthers in check.
“That performance by Brady was one of the best I’ve had at the Legion level,” Post 142 coach Jonathon Teeters told the Daily Times on Monday.
Knittel has also worked on his hitting with the Shockers. Though he never appeared at the plate for the RedStorm this season, he’s batted a solid .462 this season for Post 142 with five doubles, a home run and nine RBI.
Knittel hopes the work he’s put in this summer translates to his new team this coming spring.
“I’m just working on trying to get my velocity up to be more of a dominant pitcher,” Knittel said. “Whatever the situation may be, I’m just working on getting my velocity up and hitting my spots, and being more accurate.”
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter