It was merely a matter of when – not if – college recruiters came calling for Tegan Kuhns.
Those calls came earlier than some may have expected, but the Gettysburg High School rising sophomore handled the process as coolly as he dealt with opposing hitters from his perch atop the pitching mound. Kuhns sorted through an increasing number of NCAA Division I offers before announcing that he will play baseball at North Carolina State University following his scholastic career for the Warriors.
“The coaching staff was great, and it’s only five hours from home so my family can come see me,” said Kuhns of N.C. State.
Interest in the talented pitcher/infielder began to heat up following his tremendous outing against Muhlenberg in the District 3 Class 5A playoffs last spring. Kuhns worked six innings of four-hit ball, striking out nine while yielding just one earned run in a 2-0 defeat. His poise that evening had Gettysburg head coach Ryan Brady convinced that his youngster had the makings of a big-time recruit.
“After the district game against Muhlenberg, I was thinking that night on the bus ride home that a freshman, under the lights, threw well enough to beat a quality team,” said Brady. “I thought, this kid is legit, he’s going to play at a high level. At that point I didn’t think it would happen this summer, maybe next summer.”
Brady said Kuhns’ stock rose at the conclusion of the scholastic season before taking off in meteoric fashion over the summer. Kuhns, who is 16 years old, began to fill out 6-foot-2 frame. It also helped that his fastball, which had been in the 88-89 mile per hour range, shot up to 93.
And Brady is convinced that the heater isn’t the righty’s best pitch.
“His best pitch is his slider; he has a wipeout slider,” he said.
Kuhns said that he’s also comfortable with his curveball and is developing confidence in a circle changeup, giving him a full arsenal at his disposal.
The University of Pittsburgh, which has already secured the services of Gettysburg junior slugger Bryce Rudisill, was hot on the trail for Kuhns, as was Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast. N.C. State, which is coming off an appearance in the College World Series and recently had eight players selected in the Major League Baseball draft, remained aggressive in its recruitment of the righty who posted a 1.69 earned run average with 53 strikeouts in 45.2 innings pitched. Kuhns held opponents to a mere .190 batting average over six decisions.
A plus for the Wolfpack was that its scholarship offer was for Kuhns as an infielder as well as a pitcher. A switch-hitter, he batted .326 with 20 base knocks in 21 games last spring.
“I love it,” said Kuhns of potentially playing the field in addition to toeing the rubber. “That’s something I was looking at, to play both.”
Kuhns, who plays travel ball for 5 Star National, visited the N.C. State campus on his way home from a tournament in Florida, and the deal was sealed.
Kuhns believes announcing so early in his career will allow him to focus on playing and not the recruiting process.
“Every game there were (several) scouts coming to watch me,” he said. “Now I can be laid back and pitch my own game.”
Brady believes the sky is the limit for the sophomore, who has shown maturity beyond his years while in the midst of pressure situations.
“Throwing in a game like (Muhlenberg) speeds up the process in a hurry,” said Brady. “It felt like a Friday night football game where the stands were packed, and he never blinked. He threw well enough for us to win, and I think something clicked where he thought ‘I can do it and pitch against these guys.’
“His numbers over the summer reflect the district game. His high school season did him well and with summer ball he got in front of the right people. From there it doesn’t take very long.”
Kuhns and Rudisill will headline a Warrior team set to return seven of nine starters next season. They are also the latest in a pipeline of talent flowing from Gettysburg to the NCAA baseball ranks, with former Warriors such as Zach Ketterman (Western Carolina University) already establishing themselves on the Division I scene.
“We’re really excited and I’m super blessed to have the support system that I have with our coaches,” said Brady. “The whole staff really cares about the program and it has to start there, showing the kids what the expectation is. After the first year or two, the kids ran with it. It’s more them than us because you can be a great coach but you don’t win games without talent. We put a lot of effort into the program but we’ve been super lucky to have a flurry of amazing baseball players come through Gettysburg High School.
Kuhns is excited that he and Rudisill, who could potentially square off in the Atlantic Coast Conference down the road a bit, are able to continue the rich baseball tradition at Gettysburg.
“It’s crazy and great to be around,” said Kuhns. “We’re definitely ready to carry the torch.”