With just under a month to go in the season, Elon University baseball has a winning record and currently sits atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings. One of the reasons for the team’s success is junior pitcher George Kirby.
Kirby has been racking up accolades in his third season as a Phoenix. He has been named CAA Pitcher of the Week three times this year and was placed on the midseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given out to best amateur player in the country.
One of Kirby’s best performances of the season came on March 10 when he pitched a complete game shutout against Bryant University, striking out 11 hitters in the process.
In his career at Elon, Kirby has racked up more than 200 career strikeouts. Kirby also has strong command, allowing only five walks in nine games this year. When it comes to attacking hitters on the mound, Kirby said he has an aggressive mentality.
“I just go out there and try to be a savage,” Kirby said. “It is something I think about a lot on the mound. I just try to go throw strikes, blow it by them. That’s the basic mentality.”
That mentality showed in his most recent outing on April 14 when he struck out seven hitters in a 4-1 victory against the University of Delaware. This pushed his strikeout total to 65 on the year.
Kirby has been drawing attention from Major League Baseball teams since high school. He was selected by the New York Mets in round 32 of the 2016 MLB Draft. But Kirby chose Elon over an MLB career, and he said he was happy with his decision.
“I just wanted to come to a school with a great education and somewhere where I knew I could play and compete as a freshman,” Kirby said. “I just didn’t think I was ready mentally or physically for pro ball. So I’m glad I came here. It was a good decision.”
Sean McGrath has been the team's pitching coach since 2017. He said Kirby is a very coachable player.
“I say something, and he gives me a look, and boom. He goes and does it,” McGrath said. “He has the innate ability to go and do it in one or two pitches, which is really awesome to see. Which kind of speaks to his level, his ability.”
Head coach Mike Kennedy said Kirby has become a more consistent pitcher in his time at Elon.
“He’s been more consistent, more aggressive,” Kennedy said. “He knows his fastball is good. He’s been much more aggressive in terms of attacking hitters.”
Kennedy also praised Kirby’s improved mental toughness.
“I think mentality-wise, he’s gotten tougher,” Kennedy said. “You know, that’s a big goal for him.”
With 16 games left in the regular season for the Phoenix, Kirby said he wants to maintain his competitive edge on the mound.
“Just keep that same intensity going on the mound," Kirby said. "Just got to compete every time I am out there."