Haynes makes All-State team

Thursday, July 10, 2008
Intense presence Kelby Haynes delivers a ball while playing short-stop earlier this season. Haynes was the first Cassville baseball Wildcat named to the All-State team in over five years. Photo by Robert Hoppie/Action Sports Photo

Presence, according to Webster's Dictionary is defined as "the state of being present; the immediate area surrounding a person or thing; poise." On the baseball field, presence is defined as "knowing what to do, how to do it and when to do it." At least this is how Cassville baseball coach Rod Hemphill describes the quality, which he believes his now graduated pitching ace, Kelby Haynes, possesses.

Haynes, a senior pitcher and shortstop for the Cassville Wildcats, was recently selected to the All-State second team as a pitcher and he was also named to the Joplin Globe All-Area first team and the All-District first team.

As far as being present goes, Haynes has been a dedicated player. Starting baseball when he was only 4 years old, Haynes has played it all his life. He was a four-year starter at Cassville High School, making him only the second player in the past 20 years to do that. He also has played for the local American Legion team for all five years of his eligibility, a first in the local program's history.

Haynes' "presence" was certainly recognized this year in a 14-3 season for the Cassville Wildcat baseball team. This season was highlighted by Haynes' one-hit shut-out against the Reeds Spring Wolves followed a couple of weeks later by a no-hitter against Monett. In the contest against the rival Cubs, Haynes was in complete control, giving up no hits while striking out 10 against the defending district champions.

"There were several games where he (Haynes) was in total control," said Coach Hemphill.

Haynes also has a pretty good arsenal of pitches. He has a good fastball that can 85 miles an hour, an above-average curveball, a good change-up and a cut fastball that he added this year. Haynes finished this season with a 4-2 record and a 2.04 ERA. Cassville's ace struck-out 51 batters in just 39 and two-thirds innings and walked only 19.

Maybe no one knows Haynes' presence better than the man who caught his every pitch for the past two years.

Jody Cavness, who was Cassville's catcher for the past two seasons, was very complimentary of his battery mate.

"I think he's real competitive," said Cavness. "He goes after hitters; he's not afraid of them. I can always rely on Kelby to come in and get the job done."

Interestingly enough Haynes gave a lot of credit for his success to his catcher. When asked about what makes him so good on the mound, Haynes cited his catcher as one of the reasons.

"Jody's good at calling pitches; he always knows what I am throwing," said Haynes.

Haynes proved to be a talent on the field early in high school career. As a freshman, Haynes started on the varsity squad.

"Coach Rose and I wanted to hold him out a bit and kind of season him into varsity play," said Hemphill. "But he had outplayed everyone by the time we started games, and you really couldn't tell that he was a freshman."

Haynes' summer coaches echoed those sentiments after Haynes tried out and made the Legion team at only 14 years old.

"When he tried out for Legion, it's kind of unusual to take someone that young, said Legion Coach Jerry Marple. "We didn't know him, but he was fairly impressive in his throwing, his pitching and his hitting."

Needless to say Haynes had enough presence to make the team and a few weeks later showed why.

"We played in a tournament against a college-type team, which had four or five kids already in college, and he pitched against them and beat them," said Marple. "I felt like he just knew what he wanted to do, how to pitch and just did it."

This mantra seems to be spoken by all those who have seen Haynes on the field. Jeremy Marple, Haynes' pitching coach in the summer, is also impressed by his student.

"He knows how to pitch, he knows what he's trying to do to hitters," said Jeremy Marple. "Kelby tries to set them up, hit spots, hit locations and change speeds. He knows what he is doing."

It is only fitting that Haynes' baseball career will not stop in Cassville. Haynes is on his way to College of the Ozarks were he will continue playing the sport he loves. Haynes is the son of Jim and Becky Haynes, of Wheaton.

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