The Bryan County News chose two athletes of the month for March. Last issue, BCHS baseball player Wesley Wilkes was profiled.
Now it's Richmond Hill baseball player Nathan Kilburn's turn.
Kilburn had the kind of March for Richmond Hill baseball that approaches record breaking territory.
The Richmond Hill junior is chasing some offensive records set by another Wildcat slugger from the past, Bobby Katzman. Before the season started, head coach Mitchell Curry challenged his junior slugger to have the kind of season Katzman had his junior year. Even though the Richmond Hill catcher, affectionately nick named "Hotdog", had no idea who Katzman was, he took his coach's advice to heart and it has earned him our award this month.
Katzman, who had a successful collegiate career playing baseball after graduating from Richmond Hill, had a .506 batting average that junior year. Kilburn was at .488 early on. Katzman hit for 35 RBI’s that season while Kilburn is already at 15. Katzman hit 14 doubles his junior year and Kilburn already had 10 by the end of March. He may not break all those records, but he already leads his team in almost every offensive category, but it hasn’t come by accident.
"Nathan never really got his bat going last year but he has worked hard in the off season, lifting weights and increasing his strength," said coach Mitchell Curry of his part time catcher and designated hitter. "He takes extra batting practice and works on passed balls and catching skills. He is a good, hard working kid, and has great character."
While Nathan takes on these dual roles for the betterment of the team, he never complains about his playing time and, according to him, it is just as important to cheer his team from the dugout and then try to make the most of his contributions when he is called on and especially while he is at the plate. "Last year I was thinking too much, this year I am attacking the ball and hitting it where it is pitched," Kilburn said about his hitting approach. This is evident by his penchant for driving the ball to the power ally’s and what has led to his incredible run of doubles so far this season.
While not a home run type power hitter the way Katzman was, Kilburn’s approach has been every bit as effective in helping rally his team to an 11-5 record so far. Curry is now hoping Hotdog and his team mates can get the Wildcats back to post season play.
Kilburn became "Hotdog" his freshman year during two a day football practices. The nick name stuck and so did his dedication to his first sport of choice - football.
Nathan has plans to start looking at Division II and III schools to continue his education and play football after high school. While he has not crossed the possibility of playing baseball off the list, he was quick to point out the difficulties.
Kilburn went on to explain that two sport athletes have to work harder to keep grades up and have less of a social life than other single sport athletes.
But Kilburn has found the extra effort worth the rewards so far his high school career and only laments that he could play better given more practice. "Most of the players I face play baseball year round. Since I play football half the year, it is hard to keep up," said Hotdog.
Most of the pitchers he has faced so far this season might argue otherwise.