Prep baseball: Kyle Hoffman's versatility a great asset for Taylorsville
When Kyle Hoffman said he would do anything to help his team win, he wasn't exactly sure what that would require.
When Taylorsville needed him to catch, he put on the gear. When the Warriors had a hole at second base, he got out his infielder's glove. And when the Warriors needed a shortstop, he moved over to anchor the defense.
But the versatile senior leader still had something more to offer. Sensing that his team could be short on pitching, he fired up his arm. Even though he hadn't pitched since he was a freshman, he went to work in the offseason to give coach Jake Brown another option on the mound.
Guess what happened.
Hoffman is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA entering the week. He has 33 strikeouts over 29 innings of work. He leads the team in hitting with a .444 average. He shares the team lead in doubles with 13 and has 20 RBI.
"I hadn't thrown an inning in three or four years, but during the summer when we were beating up some teams pretty good, I told our coach that I think I could help our team by pitching," Hoffman said. "We lost a lot of good pitchers last year, and I hadn't planned on pitching my senior year. But I wanted to do whatever I could to help out our team."
Hoffman gives opposing teams a different look since he is predominantly a sidewinder. He knows his fastball doesn't have enough zip on it to blow by good hitters, but he has more than compensated for whatever velocity is missing by changing his arm angle and mixing up his pitches.
Hoffman started pitching in the bullpen, but proved his value by working in relief. In a preseason game against Spanish Fork, he came into an extra-inning game in the sixth inning and pitched until the 11th inning before leaving with a no-decision.
He was in the starting rotation by the third region series of the season.
If the Warriors, the Region 2 champs, are to get back to the Class 5A state title game again this season, they will need Hoffman to lead the way.
"He's our best player," Brown said. "He's our leader. He's been very, very good for us, and really that goes back multiple years. He's our best player defensively, he's our best pitcher and arguably our best hitter."
Whether it is making a backhanded stop in the hole and throwing out a runner, coming up with a key strikeout to get out of a jam or coming up clutch with a game-winning hit, no one really knows how Hoffman will help Taylorsville next, but that is really the point.
He can contribute in so many ways.