Heading into the 2003 baseball season, the jury was out on the Northview Knights.
Bringing back many of their top hitters, their lineup looked to be potent, however their top pitcher, Ryan Hayes, wasn't going to throw after offseason surgery. So, looking back after a 23-7 season in which they finished in a tie for 12th in the state according to the coaches' poll and advanced to the sectional title game, it's hard to believe that there were any doubts. But what made for such a great team was a group of players who played some of the best baseball of their careers and some young players who came through with huge years. And then there was senior David Kingery.
Kingery, a slugger by nature, not only had the job of helping to lead the Knights at the plate, but also got the top pitcher's role after Hayes went down.
He'd be the first person to tell you that he isn't a pitcher and isn't especially fond of the role, but he came through with flying colors both at the plate and at the mound. And that is why he received the MVP award for the 2003 Knights.
Everyone knew he could hit. And he did, to the tune of a .361 average to go with a .651slugging percentage. That number included seven doubles, a triple and five round trippers. He also tied for the team lead in RBI's with 33 and scored another 31 runs for the Knights and led the squad in walks with 25.
The big surprise however was on the mound where he started 10 games and went the distance in five. He had an 8-1 mark with a 3.50 ERA and struckout 50 batters with just 15 walks. Opponents batted just .250 versus him.
His season culminated with his best mound performance of the season when he threw a complete game, three-hit shutout in defeating Terre Haute North to advance to the sectional title game.
"David had an excellent season not just at the plate but on the mound," commented coach Gary Witham. "He really matured as a hitter this season and led the team in walks which is rare for a power hitter. He was just a tremendous player for us."
Kingery is also on the All-State ballot with teammates Brady Shoemaker and T.J. King.
On the way to those 23 wins, the Knights got one of the best offensive seasons ever from Shoemaker which is why he is being considered for the "Offensive Player of the Year Award" by Hoosier Diamond Magazine.
Shoemaker was as close to unstoppable as a player can get for most of the season, hitting .465 for the season, just ahead of King who hit .458. The most impressive number, however, might be .826. That figure is his slugging percentage which resulted from his team-leading six homeruns (tied with Andrew Griffin) and nine doubles (second to King's 10). He also added two triples. He was tied for the team lead in RBI's, with 33, and scored 30 times for the Knights. Shoemaker also reached base nearly 60 percent of the time, setting the table for those behind him.
Joining teammates Kingery and Shoemaker on the All-Conference team was King who leadoff for much of the season.
King set the table for his teammates behind him and is a big part of the reason that Northview scored 255 runs this season. His 43 led the squad and he reached base nearly 58 percent of the time and also drove in 26 from the top of the order. He topped the team in stolen bases with 19. Both he and Shoemaker are just sophomores this season and join freshman slugger Andrew Griffin as one of the best young combos in the state.
Griffin joined the varsity eight games into the season and raised eyebrows everywhere he went. A power hitting swith-hitter, Griffin slugged six homeruns in those 22 games while hitting .369. He also ripped nine doubles and drove in 25 runs and walked 16 times on the way to a .500 on base percentage. All those numbers are part of why he is being considered by Hoosier Diamond for their "Rookie of the Year Award."
Though the Knights slugged their way to a lot of victories, their pitching staff had a lot to do with their successful season.
An impressively interchangeable squad that was arguably topped by Kingery, also featured C.J. Peters who was unbeaten at 7-0 and T.J. King who was 4-0. Jason Brown also threw 29.1 innings and registered a 3.58 ERA, but Michael Stuckey might have been the biggest surprise.
Stuckey came through to start five games, going 3-5 on the season, but according to coach Witham he was a major key to the Knight's success. "All of our pitchers did a tremendous job for us this year, not just the seniors." commented Witham. "You could have thrown a blanket over all of them really. Stuckey had five of our losses and won the ERA award. They all did a tremendous job."
The Knights will be represented well by three of their graduates at the college level next season as Kingery, Ryan Herbert and Hayes all move to the next level.
Herbert and Kingery will each head to Wabash Valley Junior College while Hayes will pitch for the Indiana State Sycamores down the road.
Top to bottom, these Knights put together a special year for their fans through their hard work and cohesive effort. These players all stepped up with their teammates to create a season to be remembered.
|Mental Attitude Award||--||Kyle Nees|
|Most Improved Varsity Player||-- Brady Shoemaker|
|Most Improved B-Team Player||--||Craig Trout|
All - Conference Players -- T.J. King
|Western Indiana All-Stars||--||David Kingery|
|Lowest ERA||--||Michael Stuckey|
|Highest On-Base Avg.||--||Brady Shoemaker|
|Highest Fielding Percentage||--||Craig Trout|
|College Players||--||Ryan Hayes (ISU)|
|--||David Kingery (Wabash Valley JC)|
|--||Ryan Herbert (Wabash Valley JC)|