Three seasons removed from a standout freshman campaign, senior Kaleb Hutchinson will have one last year to try and recapture some of his rookie glory.
‘“I just want to be an integral part of the team and try to help them out, like I did my freshman year,” Hutchinson said.
‘As a rookie, the 6-2, 210-pound Hutchinson burst onto the scene and was an impact player from the beginning, starting all 42 games and batting .288 with three home runs and 17 RBI. A native of Vancouver, Wash., Hutchinson recorded 14 multi-hit games to go along with seven doubles en route to a noteworthy freshman season.
‘“He was a very promising player coming in as a freshman and had a really nice year for us.” said assistant coach Scott Marsh, “He hit a few home runs, had a nice batting average and did a very nice job.”
‘After an impressive opening campaign, Hutchinson was poised to become a team leader. However, in November of his sophomore year, Hutchinson broke a bone in his left hand and was forced to undergo surgery. While he hoped he would be able to return for his sophomore season, the Red coaching staff was not as sure. Hutchinsoin eventually had to sit out his entire second season, watching the Red’s Ivy League Gherig division championship from the bench.
‘“It was exciting on one hand to see them doing well, but it was also frustrating that I couldn’t be out there,” Hutchinson said.
‘Last season, Hutchinson struggled with his still recovering hand and endured a disappointing year at the plate, as he hit just .165 with no home run’s or RBI. However, Hutchinson’s hand feels better and the Red coaching staff expects him to return to his old form. Despite some nagging pain that remains, Hutchinson says his wrist feels better than last year.
‘“Last year as a junior, he was still having some problems with stiffness and soreness in his wrist.” Marsh said, “We think that now, from the way he has been swinging the bat in the preseason, that he has been regaining his health and can jump into the lineup and become a productive player for us again. He has the talent; it’s just a matter of being healthy.”
‘Hutchinson enters this season as the only senior position player on the roster. A standout defensive outfielder with a strong arm and very good range, the senior is fighting for a starting position in a crowded Red outfield, battling sophomore Kyle Groth and junior Ry Kagan.
‘If Hutchinson can regain his old form, however, claiming a starting spot is a very realistic possibility. With great power and solid intangibles, he could prove to be an asset to the Red both on and off the field.
‘“Kaleb brings a lot of intensity to the team and he brings a competitive edge,” Kaufman said. “He is a very good defensive outfielder and has a powerful bat when he makes contact.”