By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- Chad Kuhl has heard it all. He's used to being picked on about his last name (pronounced cool), and with the Rebels he's picked up another nickname -- B-POT.
"It stands for best player on the team," Kuhl said with a laugh. "I get hit from all angles, but it's OK."
Kuhl has earned his "B-POT" nickname this season with the Rebels. He is 4-0 with a league-best 1.11 ERA. He has 39 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. Kuhl was also one of five Rebels that were on the Valley Baseball League All-Star team.
"He's our No. 1 starter," Combs said. "He throws a lot of strikes. He does a great job of getting ahead early in the count."
Combs said he knows University of Delaware head coach Jim Sherman and Sherman had told him he was trying to get Kuhl into the Cape Cod league. Combs told Sherman if it didn't work out to send him to the Rebels, and that's what happened.
Kuhl is from Bear, Del. Kuhl said it's a small town just nine miles outside of Newark, Del., where the University of Delaware is located.
Kuhl said he's always loved the game of baseball, especially playing with his older brother Clint Jr.
"My brother was always nine years older than me," Kuhl said. "So, I always had to be competitive, because I'd always try to play with his friends. He would never take it easy on me."
Kuhl said he played many different positions in high school, including the outfield, first base, third base, and of course, pitcher. In his senior season, Kuhl had a breakout year and he won the State Player of the Year.
"I think I had like nine home runs," Kuhl said. "I think I had like a 6-1 record. That was my best year offensively and pitching. That was huge. I was really proud of myself. My parents were really proud. It was an awesome year."
When it came to picking a college, Kuhl has an easy choice to make. Kuhl said he was only being looked at by schools in the state, so it was a no-brainer to go to his hometown college -- Delaware.
Kuhl said even putting on the jersey for the first time was pretty exciting for him.
However, his freshman year didn't go as well as he would have liked. He finished the season with a 1-4 record, but said he learned a lot.
This past season, Kuhl got off to a slow start but rebounded to finish 5-5. His ERA was 4.42, with 64 strikeouts in 77.1 innings.
"I had some really good starts at the end," Kuhl said. "I was really cruising there at the end of the season and it's carried into the Valley League."
One of the highlights of his sophomore season at Delaware was the third-seeded Blue Hens run to the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament held at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.
"We had a heck of a run," Kuhl said. "We had a great team. Our team chemistry was awesome. It was probably the most fun I've ever had just playing. That was probably the best team I've ever had."
Kuhl said he loves the fastball and he's been working on a two-seam fastball, to add to his four-seamer.
"Four-seam's been my pitch," Kuhl said. "I have a slider and a changeup. Slider's really been my strikeout pitch. I've picked that up with Coach Hansen this entire season. It's a work in progress, but it's very good. We've put a lot of time into it. It's been very successful."
He's brought that success to the Rebels this season. New Market got off to a rocky start, going 0-8. The Rebels then responded with an eight-game winning streak to get back to .500. They are currently 17-15.
"We were 0-8, but we knew that we were a good team," Kuhl said. "Even coach Combs was saying we'll get there, we'll start winning. Then sure enough we did. We started rolling a little bit -- 0-8 to 8-8. We knew we were a good team. We just had to put it all together."
The players are very relaxed and loose, and Kuhl said that's made things very enjoyable.
"We have a bunch of clowns on the team," Kuhl said. "We've got a bunch of good guys on the team. So they've made it a bunch of fun.