RCC’s Young signs with Southwest State

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Riverland baseball player Kyle Young shakes his dad Ed Young's hand after signing his letter of intent to play baseball at Southwest Minnesota State University at Riverland Wednesday. Also at the signing was Young's mom Joan Young, far left, and RCC head coach Scott Koenigs, far right. -- Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

One of Riverland’s biggest bats will have a new team next year.

Kyle Young, a sophomore baseball player from Forest Lake, Minn., has signed a letter-of-intent to play at Division II Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minn. with a partial athletic scholarship next season.

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“It’s nice to have coaches call and recruit you and when they offer money, that’s even better,” Young said. “I’ve matured a lot with my body, as a person and as a baseball player (since coming to RCC). I was pretty good in high school, but I’ve matured a lot in the mind game. There’s always more to work on, but what I’ve gained has been good.”

Young, who is hitting .333 with an on-base percentage of .443 this season, has been told by Southwest head coach Paul Blanchard that he has a great chance to start at right field next season and he’s looking forward to playing at higher level.

“I’m always up for a challenge and knowing I’m going to be going to a really good conference in the Midwest excites me a lot,” he said. “Coach Blanchard is a great coach and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He’s got a lot of background in the game and that was really important to me.”

Young came to RCC as a solid hitter last year, but he only had a handful of homers in his high school career. He drilled 12 homers as a freshman and has four homers this season.

Young is on the verge of the Blue Devil record books as he is just one homerun away from tying Southland grad Brian Voigt for the school record for all-time homers (17).

“We got him to attack the ball a little bit more and try to drive the ball more, but we didn’t change much. He was always a good hitter in high school and I felt he could be an extra base guy,” RCC head coach Scott Koenigs said. “With the old bats he’d have 10 or 12 homers this season. He really hit a lot of balls a long ways in Flordia and came up empty for homeruns. I think the bats are starting to get broken in now.”

Young, who has hit all four of his homers this season in the last eight games, said he and Voigt, who now plays at Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D., motivated each other when they batted back-to-back on last year’s team.

“To hold a record at a school would be great and it’s always in the back of my mind. If I get it, I’d like to see how long it lasts,” Young said. “But if it doesn’t happen, I’ve still had great numbers.”

Young, who was All-State and All-Conference as a freshman, has developed into a great hitter at RCC and he’s also picked up some strong leadership traits.

Koenigs said Young is one of the leaders in the weight room and on the field.

“He makes sure other guys were doing stuff around him,” Koenigs said. “He’s not afraid to tell someone when they’re not doing something right and he’s kind of my right hand man along with Aussie. Those are the guys I lean on.”

Koenigs is glad to send another player on to the Division II level and he expects there to be about six or seven players on this year’s squad who will play on at a higher level next season.

“It shows where our program is right now and how far it’s come,” he said. “It’s one of the premiere Division II junior colleges in the nation and we’re getting good kids who want to play right away and get some individual instruction.”

Southwest Minnesota is off to a 9-15 start to this season and it plays in the Northern Sun Conference.

Young has seven doubles and 16 RBIs this season. As a freshman, he hit .407 with 12 doubles and 57 RBIs.