Kyle Janssen has been a force to be reckoned with both with his right pitching arm and his bat this season for the Newark Norseman varsity baseball team.
On the mound in eight games, Janssen’s 5-0 with one save and a minuscule 0.34 earned-run-average. In 41 1/3 innings, he’s allowed six runs (two earned) and 17 hits, while striking out 57 and walking eight. At the plate, he’s hitting .483 (28-of-58).
The most impressive number this season for Janssen, though, was 31 1/3, as in consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to start the season. After giving up two unearned runs in the season-opener to Marquette, he went six straight games without surrendering a run of any kind before seeing his string come to an end earlier this week in the first inning against Somonauk.
For his mind-boggling season totals so far and helping lead Newark to a 13-4 overall record — including a 6-2 mark in the Little Ten Conference — Janssen has been selected as this week’s Prime Times Player.
“The season has been going pretty well and we’re playing really well together,” Janssen said. “I’m trying to keep batters off-balance with different pitches, and trying to keep them off-base, so they can’t score. My catchers (Adam Marcley and Tyler Vickory) are doing a really good job of calling signs and mixing the pitches up.”
“Kyle’s been absolutely unbelievable for us, just awesome,” Norseman coach D.J. Cocks said. “He’s not only pitching well for us, but he’s also our best hitter.”
Cocks is still amazed about Janssen’s scoreless innings streak.
“His first outing against Marquette he gave up two unearned runs, but from then on until the Somonauk game, he didn’t give up a run in any way, shape or form,” Cocks said. “Even when he came on in relief when he didn’t know for sure that he’d be pitching, he still shut teams down, which is pretty unbelievable to do as both a starter and reliever, and that’s not an easy thing to do.
“It was just an unbelievable streak and an impressive feat to accomplish. Things like that just don’t happen in high school baseball.”
Janssen was both disappointed and relieved when the streak ended.
“When I pitched against Marquette, I knew I gave up two runs, but I didn’t know if they were earned or not,” Janssen said. “But when I found out they were unearned, I thought to myself, ‘Wow how awesome would it be if I could go through the whole season without allowing an earned run.’ I would’ve liked to have kept it going, but in a way there’s a little bit of stress off of me.”
Cocks has known since Janssen entered the Newark program as a ninth-grader that he had all the tools to be successful at the prep level.
“I’ve known Kyle had the potential to be good since the moment he walked into the school as a freshman,” Cocks said. “I named him my opening day starter that season and he’s been my ace the last three years.
“He’s got a fastball in the low 80s and a nice curveball. His curveball is the key to his success, because it’s really nasty and keeps hitters off-balance, and they don’t know if he’s going to try and blow it by them or give him the hook. So when he’s got both pitches working, he’s untouchable.”
As for the remainder of his junior campaign, Janssen has some lofty goals he’s hoping to achieve.
“Our main goal is to win the Little Ten,” Janssen said. “Individually, I’d like to start another streak, finish the season with a batting average at or a little above .500, and pitching-wise I’d like to get around 120 strikeouts.”
Name: Kyle Janssen
Accomplishment: Janssen has led the Norsemen to a 13-4 start with a sparking 5-0 pitching record and a tiny ERA of 0.34.