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Sunday, Sep. 21, 2014

SD Baseball Player of the Year: Despite numbers, Moore still shines

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ORAN -- When looking back at his performance this past season, Oran junior Kody Moore will be the first to tell you that, statistically, it doesn't match up to his stellar sophomore campaign.

After hitting at a .470 clip two years ago, Moore saw his average drop to a still impressive .370 mark as he batted leadoff for the Eagles this season.

"I had a down year this year," Moore said. "It's just one of those baseball things where you're not going to have a perfect game every time and I tried to tell myself that, but I don't think I played to my full potential this year."

(Photo)
Kody Moore of Oran High School is the 2012 Standard Democrat Baseball Player of the Year. For a list of the All-Standard Democrat Baseball Team, see the July 8 edition of the Standard Democrat.
(Staff Photo)
Despite the dip in his average, it was Moore's consistency during the Eagles second straight trip to the Class 1 Show-Me Showdown that once again set him apart as one of the best players in the area.

Between serving as Oran's ace on the mound and anchor at the top of the order, Moore was either at or near the top in almost every offensive category. He led the team in runs-batted-in (30), doubles (6), home runs (5) and slugging percentage (.660).

His three triples put him in a three-way tie for the team lead while his batting average (.371) was third best among starters.

"As far as his overall stats he probably wasn't as productive as he was the year before," Oran head coach Mitch Wood said. "But he definitely had a good year for us and I think a lot of it is the people around him.

"He had a lot of help around him this year as far as some people really coming on and helping us out. There wasn't as much pressure on him to do some of the things we would normally want him to do."

Added Moore, "I did get on base this year. It's not like I had a terrible year. I just feel like I could have done better."

For whatever dip his offensive numbers may have taken, Moore more than made up the difference with the best pitching numbers of his high school career. Between his starts and late-season relief appearances Moore logged a total 63 innings on the mound to best the next best Eagle hurler by 12 2/3 innings.

In a total of 14 appearances he held opposing hitters to a .198 average while striking out 51 hitters and putting up a 2.44 earned-run-average. His ERA, innings pitched and strikeout totals were all career highs as he finished the season with a 4-2 record.

After a so-so start to the season, Wood credits Moore's start against cross-town rival Chaffee in early May with boosting his confidence going into their postseason run.

Pitching a complete-game effort that day, Moore guided the Eagles to a 2-1 nine-inning win while holding one of the best offensive teams in the area to three hits and three walks while fanning four.

"I think the Chaffee game was probably the big turning point for him," Wood said. "He pitched real well there, which he started that one. I think after that he kind of felt like he could pitch against anybody. I think it really showed after that."

It was following his performance against the Red Devils that Oran started to put Moore in more of a closer's role toward the end of the postseason.

There's little doubt the move paid off as Moore picked up wins in both the sectional and quarterfinal rounds coming out of the bullpen.

Facing Cooter in sectionals, Moore came to the mound in the fourth with the bases-loaded and one out as Oran clung to a slim one-run lead. He went on to pitch 3-2/3 no-hit innings in a 6-3 win.

Just two days later, he picked up his final win of the year in a pitching duel against Naylor to send the Eagles back to the Show-Me Showdown.

Moore took to the rubber with a two-run lead, this time with runners on first and second and no outs in the sixth. Though he'd surrender a run on a one-out single, he retired five straight batters to seal a 4-1 win.

"I guess coach felt good with me closing out ball games," Moore said. "He felt like if we had a one- or two-run lead, I could come in and close it out for three or four innings."

Commented Wood, "It was just finding a spot to put him in. With the weather, I think we went through some stages where we didn't play a lot of games in a row.

"I was fortunate enough to have a couple other good young arms. Him coming in and throwing when he did just kind of worked out for us."

As pivotal as those appearances were, Moore's luck came to an end when he entered Oran's semifinal matchup with Santa Fe.

Coming into a tied game with one out in the fourth inning, Moore proceeded to pitch the Eagles into extra-innings where an unearned run in the top of the eighth frame ended Oran's title hopes.

As Moore heads into his senior season, thoughts of playing at the next level no doubt have started to enter his mind. According to Wood, his ability to play nearly any position in the field and hit for power should be a big advantage when colleges come calling.

"That's probably the big key to him playing at the next level," Wood said. "He's real versatile. With his size he's probably going to get away from being a corner man and probably have to play more up the middle or somewhere.

"I think the biggest thing that surprises a lot of people is that he's got a lot of fire in a small package. He's not a very big kid, but he has a lot of power in his bat."

But before he graduates just a little over a year from now, Moore still has one thing to cross off his high school checklist.

"Definitely winning (a state title)" he said. "That's my main goal."