A pair of local kids have made a big splash this summer on the travel baseball circuit, helping the Nicholasville, Kentucky-based KBC Prime 13U team achieve a top-25 national ranking.
Alex Martin and Jasper Kemp, each set to begin eighth grade at Adair County Middle School this month, have spent most of their weekends over the past couple of months on diamonds across the region. They have competed in tournaments in Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana, facing off against some of the best 13-year-olds in the country.
“The competition has been tough,” Kemp admits. “You just have to battle through it and know that you can do it, know that you can succeed.”
The pair have proven valuable to their squad in a wide range of roles, with Martin playing catcher, pitcher, third base, shortstop, and second base, while Kemp saw time “pretty much everywhere except first base,” before his season was cut short with a hamstring injury.
“I think I played pretty well before my hamstring [injury],” Kemp says. “I had quite a few hits and I got to pitch quite a bit.”
Martin says that his performance this summer was “alright, not the greatest,” but the stats suggest the youngster is a little too modest.
Martin was named to the 2022 PBR Kentucky State Championship All-Tournament team this past Fourth of July weekend. Over six games at the tourney, he hit .429 with a .526 on-base percentage, scoring 10 runs.
Both Kemp and Martin say that their biggest takeaway from the season has been in the mental area of the game.
“I think my biggest improvement has been in my mindset, my approach at the plate and thinking the game through,” Martin says.
Kemp concurs. “I’ve gotten better at not getting down on myself, keeping my head up if I strike out or do something I shouldn’t have,” he says. “I’ve tried to just make myself move on from it and go on to the next one.”
Both players have lofty ambitions in the game of baseball, and hope that their experience playing against elite talent this summer will help them achieve their goals.
“I just want to keep getting stronger, keep working to get better,” Kemp says. “I just want to be a great high school player and help the Indians win games.”
Martin is similarly focused.
“My goals in baseball are to start for the high school team and eventually make it D1,” he says.
While mental preparation, tireless work, and the sacrifice of giving up weekends at the pool might not seem the ideal way for a 13-year-old to spend summer break, Martin assures that the past few months on the baseball field has been “a lot of fun.”
This post is brought to you as part of Adair Drug Tuesday.