By Carolyn Linck, '11
In his first season at SCU freshman Kyle DeMerritt (KD) from nearby San Jose has been a standout for the Broncos. Recently www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) caught up with DeMerritt about his adjustment to the collegiate level of play, his goals for the next four years and the advantages of staying close to home for college.
SCB: You attended high school at nearby Bellarmine Prep in San Jose. What are the advantages of staying close to home for college?
KD: Initially I didn't want to be close to home because I felt like I needed to be far away and on my own to get the full college experience. I quickly learned that being within 20 minutes of my house made no difference. Between baseball, school and a social life, there wasn't much time for anything else. Being close to home has been amazing, especially since I have such a busy schedule. I get my laundry done whenever I go home. It's also nice to be able to go for a home-cooked meal or to sleep in my own bed from time to time. Overall, it's been nice I have such a strong support group near me and my friends are able to visit.
SCB: What has your adjustment to life and baseball at Santa Clara University been like?
KD: It has been a pretty huge life adjustment, because I have never had so many demands and tasks to accomplish without being supervised. There is so much more freedom, but with that comes much more responsibility. Also, I went to a great high school, but college baseball with workouts almost every morning, practices and meetings take up an enormous amount of time. The biggest adjustment, therefore, has definitely been learning to manage my time so I never fall behind.
SCB: Do you feel like the older guys on the team have helped you adjust to the collegiate level of baseball? If so, how?
KD: I have been extremely fortunate to be able to play with older guys all my life because I always played above my age group. I know from experience that the older guys on a team have a huge impact on the performance of everyone, and can especially help the newcomers. Coaches don't have enough time to give everyone individual attention. The guidance and expectations of the older players who know the coaching style really help bring you up to speed. Here, the older guys have helped make me a part of the team and feel comfortable with everyone. I have learned a great deal about every aspects of the game – physically, emotionally and mentally – from simply being around them. Maybe even more important, they have helped me off the field: providing me with a core group of friends, helping me adjust to the schedule and classes, giving advice, tutoring on the road and many other things.
SCB: What has been your favorite moment playing baseball for the Broncos so far?
KD: My favorite moment so far was my first game playing at South Carolina. The park was amazing, and I have never played in front of that big or hostile of a crowd. That all added to the experience, but I think the fact that I was given the opportunity to start in our first game really meant a lot of me. That I was trusted to perform on such a big stage made me nervous, but extremely excited. It was great because not only was I being given the chance to keep playing baseball after high school, but I was also playing at a higher level where everyone is very talented. I was fulfilling a goal that only a year ago seemed a lifetime away.
SCB: You are currently leading the team in hitting. What do you attribute your success at the plate to?
KD: I would attribute a great deal of my success at the plate to the coaching I have received. I came into college playing baseball my whole life, but I was still extremely inexperienced compared to almost all the other guys here. The coaches have really helped me improve the mental part of my game, having a plan, knowing what the pitcher is doing. The fences are bigger, the players are faster and the pitching is better, so being able to slow the game down really helped. Finally, the biggest thing that helped bring me success is handling failure and making adjustments. This way when I fall into a slump, I can still find ways to succeed and grind through adversity.
SCB: Do you consider hitting the strongest aspect of your game right now?
KD: In my opinion, I have always been pretty even between which is stronger: my defense or offense, but leaned more towards defense. However, with the faster and stronger players at the college level I'm still learning and adjusting in the field, so my hitting has dominated so far. I was fortunate enough to play in a great high school league and face some amazing competition during the summers before Santa Clara, which helped make the adjustment to college ball much smoother. However, the amount of games we play can wear you down, so the mental aspect becomes much more important.
SCB: What aspect of your game do you think is the weakest and how are you working to improve this?
KD: The weakest area of my game so far has been my defense at third. There are many areas that I can still improve on. I have made many more errors than I would have liked, and most of them could have been avoided with better preparation. To correct this I am communicating with our coaches and shortstop to make sure I have the best positioning for the type of hitter that's up. Outside of the game, I try to come early to get extra work in. Our coaches are always there and ready to help get us extra reps.
SCB: Four years from now what do you hope you will have accomplished in your Bronco baseball career?
KD: My goals are exactly the same as our entire team's. At the end of my four years I want to win our league. That would also mean we get a playoff berth and the chance to go to Omaha to play in the College World Series, which is my dream. Finally, no matter what I hope to carry the memories of Santa Clara baseball and the friendships I have made here with me for the rest of my life.