By Rachel West – Managing Editor
The name “Kyle Neu” in Centre’s baseball program has almost become synonymous with the term “Pitcher of the Week.”
It might seem like a joke, but it’s not: senior pitcher Neu has won conference Pitcher of the Week multiple times through two different conferences (Centre’s former conference of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and their current conference of the Southern Athletic Association (SAA)) in his four years at Centre.
Neu is a mainstay of the baseball program; last year, he tied the school record for most complete games in a season and is on track to bring down some more records for his final season.
His most recent SAA Pitcher of the Week award from Feb. 25 came on the heels of a week that included his first complete game of the season and thirteen innings in which he allowed no earned runs.
Despite his own personal successes, everything Neu says and does continues to be focused on the team and the their efforts rather than on his individual work.
He’s seen four teams of varying skill level come and go and worked to find his own place on the team. For him, the most important change of the team culture and atmosphere during his time at Centre is the camaraderie that has developed.
“During my time the team has grown much closer together. We like being around each other and that’s something that will also pay off in the long run,” Neu said. “Hard work doesn’t seem like work at all, just fun with the guys.”
As for the current team in particular, Neu believes in the goals that the team has set for themselves, which he calls goals about “the process of playing the game, rather than the outcomes.”
These goals include ideas about the way players act both on and off the baseball diamond: “live a full day, everyday;” “work to dominate on and off the field;” “hold yourself and everyone else accountable;” “be the inspiration and the motivation;” “push beyond comfort;” and “have fun and LOVE playing baseball.”
“Going forward with the season our last goal of ‘have fun and love playing baseball’ really resonates with me,” Neu said. “This could be my last season of organized baseball where it really matters and I’m going to try to have the most fun I can as well as love every second of it regardless of the results.”
Still, Neu isn’t forgetting about the outcomes of the games, and he has strong hopes for the team and their prospects this season. “I would like to see more wins coming our way,” Neu said.
Yet he remains focused on the importance of the way the team moves forward regardless of the win-loss record. “What I’d really like to see is for us to compete in every one of our games going forward and be able to look back and say, ‘That was fun. I’m exhausted. Let’s do it again tomorrow.’ No matter what the score is I’d like to see an attitude like that come to the forefront because win or lose that is a fun way to play baseball and is quite rewarding regardless of the result,” Neu said.
Neu admitted that this year’s team is very young, but he still thinks the team has good odds for this season and for future seasons. “It’s of course hard to talk about development with such a young team,” Neu said.
“There are places I could see the team in a few years if the guys who are currently playing keep working hard to get better. There are a lot of young guys (freshmen and sophomores) who are getting to play a lot and that experience will pay dividends down the road and this season.”
When asked about his own personal training programs, Neu attributed his training program to former Centre baseball player Joe Nash, class of 2013, who he says helped him create his training style.
“He got me into the velocity program that so much of the team is on now. I owe a lot of my success and ability to go deep into games to this program,” Neu said.
“Not only did Joe introduce me to the velocity program, but he showed me a weight program he was doing that has also contributed greatly to my strength. It was a lot of hard work and the results have been very rewarding.”
Neu added that he also trains hard so that when he is on the field, he can get ahead of the batters. “I know what kind of pitcher I am and I cannot go out there and blow the ball by people,” Neu said. “To be successful I have to get ahead in counts and utilize my off-speed pitches.”
“The ability to throw these pitches for strikes in any count has been a huge reason for some of my recent success. No batter likes to get a 2-1 changeup or slider, but often they swing anyways thinking it is a fastball until it’s too late. When I can get weak groundouts even when I’m behind in the count, that’s when I have everything working,” Neu said.
While Neu’s accomplishments on the baseball diamond are more than impressive, he is also recognized for his accomplishments off the field.
Neu is a double major in International Studies and Financial Economics, and he has been awarded the SAA Academic All-Conference Award each year for his high academic achievement.
In addition to his academic work and athletic achievements, Neu has also interned at the Cincinnati Zoo, worked at Phillips Edison & Company as a part of their Non-traded Real Estate Investment Trust, and studied abroad in both Strasbourg and Thailand.
Neu admitted that it takes a lot of work to juggle academic and athletic commitments, but he thinks that he was well prepared upon entering Centre for the challenge that awaited him.
“I played three sports throughout the entirety of my high school career and I learned how to manage my time very well with that schedule,” Neu said.
“I simply applied what had worked in high school to Centre with the simple caveat that I had to start some assignments earlier than I would have in high school. There was not much of an adjustment from playing three sports to playing one year round.”
When looking ahead at his own future now that he is a senior, Neu is making sure to keep his options open. “I currently plan to enter the workforce and get a master’s degree in a few years in either business administration, finance, or health administration or get a MBA while working,” Neu said. “That’s the plan right now, but we’ll see what happens with upcoming opportunities.”
Asked about whether he would like to continue with his baseball career in the future, Neu is optimistic but practical about the possibility.
“I’d like to keep the option to continue my baseball career open, but I have to plan like that won’t happen; otherwise, I will have no other options if something doesn’t pan out,” Neu said. “If I am able to continue with baseball, that would be great, but I have to prepare as if it won’t happen.”
With Neu’s work ethic and accomplishments, it seems a sure bet that whether he becomes an all-star pitcher or a finance minister, he’ll knock it out of the park.