Walk-on proves himself at mound

By Kristin Egan | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Transfer student Tony Kirkland continues to prove doubters wrong as baseball’s victorious underdog.
The 5-foot, 9-inch pitcher transferred to Flagler College last fall to play baseball for the Saints.

“The whole reason I even came to this school was to pitch,” Kirkland said.

As a last minute walk-on, Coach Dave Barnett told Kirkland that he would not get a lot of playing time. Kirkland knew all he needed was a chance to prove he could play like he has done in the past.

Kirkland’s baseball career started off rocky, as he was cut from the junior varsity team his freshman year in high school. With hard work and dedication, he returned to play his sophomore year and pitched on both the junior varsity and varsity teams.

Doubted by his peers, Kirkland improved his pitching and eventually became a starter. He ended his high school baseball career as the ace of the staff at Florida High School his senior year.

“Nobody ever thought any colleges would look at me or that I would ever make it to college ball,” Kirkland said.

Continuing to prove everyone wrong, Kirkland was recruited by many junior colleges and decided to walk on at North Florida Community College in Madison.

After playing there for two years and graduating with an associate’s degree, he thought about ending his baseball career.

“I almost quit baseball because school is more important,” he said. “Now having played with the guys on the team, I’m glad I stuck with it.”

Assistant Coach Brad Jackson attended the same high school and junior college as Kirkland and is happy to have Kirkland alongside playing for the Saints.

“We’re glad to have him,” Jackson said. “He’s a good kid. We expect to see big things from Tony, and he definitely makes a great addition to the team.”

With the approval of his coaches and teammates, Kirkland has stopped trying to prove himself and plays with confidence. He pitched seven innings without allowing an earned run in his first start for the Saints this year.

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