Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

August 7, 2013

Cottle to pitch again for Bluefield State

GARDNER — To listen to Kevin Cottle, the PikeView baseball team didn’t lose much to graduation.

Josh Wyatt would beg to differ.

After all, Cottle was one of those losses, and all he did was earn All-Class AA honors and was the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Year in the spring.

“Absolutely,” said Wyatt, the baseball coach at PikeView. “You are talking about somebody that won nine games and was 9-1 in West Virginia so, big time, somebody is really going to have to step up.”

Replacing Cottle won’t be easy. The hard-throwing right-hander compiled a 9-3 record last season, while striking out 92 in leading the Panthers to the 23-11 mark, and just one win from the Class AA state tournament.

Not bad for a program that won about five games when Cottle was a freshman mostly playing the outfield for the Panthers.

“We won about five or something like that, but as long as it went on the better and better we got,” Cottle said. “Wyatt is a heck of a head coach, we had a lot of freshmen coming up this year to help us out a lot and we just progressed a lot...

“Playing under Coach Wyatt, you don’t get coaches like that every day, you don’t get that chance all the time, it is just great.”

Even though Cottle’s days at PikeView are through, his playing days are not. Cottle will continue his education and baseball career at Bluefield State, choosing the Big Blues over West Virginia State and West Virginia Tech.

“I had a couple of other college offers too, but I figured I would just go local and just stay close to home,” said Cottle, who will major in civil engineering. “They have a pretty good ball program and I am sure I will be able to help them out a little bit and they can help me.”

“It gives me goosebumps sitting here talking about it really,” added Wyatt, during a ceremony on Wednesday at PikeView. “It is a first for me so it is definitely a proud day. I was very excited to get out here and do it.”

Cottle should definitely help the Geoff Hunter’s Big Blues, and Wyatt figures it could be soon.

“I think he is going to give him somebody to throw right away,” Wyatt said. “Going back to the whole pitching thing, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to work counts, I think he is going to be the type of guy that can log a lot of innings for them.

“At the college level he will get more one on one attention, they will be able to work with him in the offseason and that is something we are not allowed to do here. He will get that one on one attention and hopefully do well.”

Cottle will do what it takes to get on the mound soon for the Big Blues.

“The  way (Hunter) ) talked he told me they had 90-some innings to fill, and he plans on me helping fill in those innings,” Cottle said. “I am hoping I can go in and get some time right off the bat.”

A lifelong baseball participant, Cottle had always dreamed of playing beyond his days at PikeView.

“Ever since I started playing ball I have always wanted to go all the way through and play college ball and maybe go a little further with it,” he said.

It wasn’t until Wyatt’s first season at PikeView three years ago that Cottle worked from the mound.

“I never started throwing until my sophomore year when Wyatt came up and he gave me a chance to throw,” he said.

What Wyatt noticed was a live arm, and he showed the confidence to put Cottle on the mound. He immediately paid dividends as a sophomore in an unlikely meeting in Myrtle Beach, S.C. against Princeton, and those Tigers reached the state semifinals that season, and won the state title in 2012.

“Obviously he had a very live arm,” said Wyatt, who called Cottle’s development from his sophomore to junior seasons as ‘phenomenal.’ “I think his big turning point, we went to Myrtle Beach and we ended up playing Princeton in one of our final games, he pitched that game and had a shutout through six innings.”

Cottle has been no stranger to the mound or baseball, having developed a love for the game at an early age.

“I played since coach-pitch, but I never dreamed I would be this big,” said Cottle, who focused only on baseball at PikeView. “I was an average player, that is all I thought I would be. I came up and Wyatt gave me a chance to throw and it just kind of progressed from there.”

His passion for baseball was enhanced by a close-knit family, including his father, also named Kevin, and mother, Dreama, along with two older sisters who also graduated from PikeView.

“Mom and dad have both pushed me, they have took me to pitching school up in Beckley and they have carried me all the way through, bought all my stuff for me, brought me to games, picked me up after practice all the time,” Cottle said. ‘They have a big part in it.”

All that led to Cottle becoming a key part of PikeView success on the diamond. He still recalls striking out 12 batters in a sectional win over James Monroe as a sophomore, and Wyatt recalled his performance in helping the Panthers rally from a loss and claim the sectionals in the spring.

“I just go out there and give 110 (percent) every time when I take the mound, trying to give it my best,” Cottle said.

Wyatt, who will always credit Cottle and fellow graduate Greg Hogan with helping to build a foundation for future PikeView success, liked the attitude  he took the mound.

“He really does have that bulldog mentality,” he said. “That never stops.”

What impressed Wyatt about Cottle was his ability to understand the role of a pitcher. He didn’t just throw hard, he threw hard and smart.

“Kevin was a pitcher, if he got 0-2, he knew where to put the ball, 1-2, he knew where to put the ball, what was great about it is he gave me the ability as a coach, if we even got down 3-1 or 2-1, I could still come back with his off-speed and take chances of him hitting the zone,” Wyatt said. “I think the big turning point for him as a pitcher this year may have been the Myrtle Beach trip, coming back from that you could see the confidence he gained in the guys playing defense behind him.

“He did that and he excelled. ”

Cottle was on the mound when PikeView lost a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to Independence in the regionals, a defeat that has continued to stick with him.

“I was playing with Beckley this summer and every game I played that game came back to me,” Cottle said. “I played against a bunch of the boys I played against in that game, they were on my team up there, we talked about that game all the time.”

If that opportunity comes again, Cottle expects PikeView to pack its bags for Charleston.

“I definitely look for them to be upstate,” Cottle said. “They are going to have a lot more talent coming up this year, they didn’t lose much at all and I definitely look for them to go somewhere this year.”

As for Cottle and his tenure at PikeView, it won’t be one he will never forget.

“It was a lifetime experience,” he said, with a smile. “It was a blast.”

 

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