May 16, 2012
Kevin Kray holds one of the team's best ERAs this season. After redshirting the 2011 year, Kray has really come on this season and taken over the closer role. In 17 appearances, the Maple Grove, Minn., native holds a 2.12 ERA and has a team-high seven saves, while ranks second in the Big Ten Conference. Following the Gopher season, Kray will play with the St. Paul Capitals here in the Twin Cities area. Here's a short question/answer with the Gopher RHP.
Q: You were red-shirted last season, what process did you undergo and how did that year help you prepare for this season?
A: "It helped me prepare mentally more than I think anything. I did get a chance to get into the weight room a little bit more and I just tried to get myself up to pace on that. But as far as mentally, I was able to adjust from a high school baseball mentality and be more of a guy who just concentrates on putting the ball over the plate and not letting guys put it into play. My redshirt season was the best decision I could have made, allowed me to sit back and watch how the older players handled themselves in times of adversity. It gave me a chance to learn how to play the game at the next level. Learning to throw three pitches for strikes has been the biggest role in my success along with the mental side of the game; it has allowed me to prepare to pitch in tough situations."
Q: You have taken over the role as the closer, is that a role you anticipated?
A: "No not at all. Just coming into this season I was just fighting to get some innings on the team and was competing for a spot just like everyone else. But, I was able to take advantage of the opportunities given to me on the mound and my role continued to change into a closer spot for me. I feel very fortunate to be able to take advantage of this opportunity I was given, so it has been a pretty exciting ride so far. I hope to continue to be in the closer role because I enjoy coming in to pitch when the game is on the line and have fun competing."
Q: What has been the biggest change in approach from when you came in, to now?
A: "Out of high school I was more of a strike out guy and I never was forced to throw strikes to find success. Since competing at this next level I realized that in order to have success, I have to be able to throw strikes with all three pitches and be a pitcher who pounds the zone. That has been the biggest change to my approach on the mound just being a strike thrower who makes every hitter have to earn their way on base when they are at bat."
Q: You played hockey in high school, growing up which sport did you like more and why?
A: "I would have to go towards hockey actually. I really liked hockey growing up, it was my favorite sport so I put a lot of time and energy and effort into that. Baseball kind of came around unexpectedly for me, but it was a nice surprise. And now I am truly happy that I made the decision to play baseball. I never really thought about playing hockey collegiately because the opportunities were not really there. I was recruited and signed as a junior to play here, so I kind of already had set plans for college."
Q: Tell me about loving to fish as one of your hobbies.
A: "I am a huge fisherman. I fish all the metro lakes around here and is basically one of the reasons why I do not play summer baseball. I want to be out on the lake fishing every day. That is kind of my hobby, my true love and passion." The biggest fish I have every caught was a 52-inch Muskie, I have had some other people in my boat catch 52-inchers. But that is about as big as I have caught so far."
Q: What is your best fishing story?
A: "I actually saw it, I did not have it happen, but we pulled up to some boat where the guys were clearly drinking in their boat. We pulled into this spot and they decided to start casting again, and first thing the guys does is stand up and cast one right into the back of another guy's head.
Also while in Florida my freshman year we had a team meal on an ocean front beach. We ordered our food and a bunch of guys and I headed down to the pier just down the way while we waited for our food. On the pier there was a fisherman with an extra rod. He asked if I wanted to fish for a bit and as I picked up the pole, which had already been casted, I got a bite and immediately set the hook. After a 15 minute battle we finally saw that I had hooked into a shark. Eventually pulling the shark onto the dock I got to take a few pictures with it. After that I went back into the restaurant's front doors and I was welcomed with a standing ovation. I will never forget that story, I have only fished in the ocean for a few seconds and have caught one shark, that is not too bad if you ask me."
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