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TMC's Tommy Kister just getting started

Posted: March 30, 2014 10:15 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2014 10:15 p.m.

The Master's College senior pitcher Tommy Kister has filled in well after the departure of key pitchers from last season.

 

Two different mind-sets, but the same approach.

That’s how The Master’s College pitcher Tommy Kister viewed his transition from closer to starter this season.

With the Mustangs coming off their most successful season in program history with a school-record 44 wins and the Golden State Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, head coach Monte Brooks knew there would be some big shoes to fill after losing GSAC Pitcher of the Year A.J. Work and All-GSAC pitcher Tyler Elrod to graduation.

So, just as he did all season when he needed a win, he went to his bullpen.

“He’s such a competitor,” Brooks says of Kister. “We like the way he competes. We like the way he battles. We like the way he attacks. He’s got a good mental approach. We’re just grateful to have him this year.”

After recording 10 saves for the Mustangs last season and posting a 3.57 ERA, Brooks asked Kister to use the summer to prepare himself to take on a spot in the starting rotation.

And with a true closer mentality, Kister felt no pressure when faced with his new role.

“It was motivation,” he says. “We lost some great starters and I came in wanting to fill those shoes knowing that we lost two big arms. My approach hasn’t changed at all. I still want to attack the hitters from the get-go.

“And now I get to go out and set the tone. But I do miss the adrenaline rush of coming in and closing a game.”

Kister also said he likes the starting role because it gives him time to prepare himself rather than not knowing when he would be asked to come in.

And luckily for him, he already had some experience as a starter.

In his junior and senior years at Saugus High, Kister earned 11 wins and posted a 2.51 ERA.

“He was an absolute bulldog on the mound,” says Saugus head coach John Maggiora. “He’s the kind of guy when you watch him pitch, you’re not going to be enamored. But he always wanted the ball in his hands. Always eager to succeed. And he’s a great teammate and a joy to coach.”

Kister spent his summer preparing for his starting role by playing in the Great Lakes League for the Xenia Scouts where he went 6-0 with a 1.28 ERA, earning him the Lou Laslo Great Lakes Pitcher of the Year award. He was also named to the All-Great Lakes League First Team.

From there, he went on to play in the Cape Cod League, where he helped his Cotuit Kettleers win a league title.

But the added workload took its toll and Kister started feeling some soreness in his throwing elbow in the fall.

“I think it was just from throwing a lot in the summer and rushing back into it in the fall,” Kister says. “But it was good because it reminded me to take care of my body. I’ve been in the trainer’s room a lot more this year. Now I’m making sure I do my arm care after every time I throw, staying in shape and keeping my stamina up so I could last longer in games rather than just for one or two innings.”

The arm care seems to be working as Kister has already pitched in more innings this season than in any other year for a Mustangs team that is ranked seventh in the nation by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics coaches’ poll.

He is currently 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA as TMC sits in third in the GSAC behind No. 12 Concordia and No. 5 San Diego Christian.

Whether it be starting a game or trotting out from the bullpen with a one run lead in the ninth, Kister is comfortable on the mound in any situation. And with a strong defense behind him led by GSAC Player of the Year and NAIA All-American Steve Karkenny and middle infielders Jon Popadics and Sam Robinson, his confidence is that much greater.

“It takes a lot of pressure off of you knowing that you don’t have to do it all on your own,” Kister says. “We try to get batters out in three pitches or less. And having that confidence in your defense is helpful and what you want as a pitcher. They’ll always have our back.”

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