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Sports · May 11, 2015

Brenton Doyle delivers at bat and in field for Cougars

Photo/Chuck Jackson
Brenton Doyle smacks a single against Liberty last Wednesday.
“I fell in love with the game the first time I stepped into the batter’s box,” Brenton Doyle says.
Brenton is the best batter we’ve ever had here at Kettle Run. His bat speed is amazing, and he is and will improve.
— Kettle Run Coach Ty Thorpe
Hitters frequently take a first strike to gauge a pitcher’s speed, control and delivery.

Not Kettle Run’s Brenton Doyle.

Wednesday night, Doyle took a healthy swing at the first pitch Eagles hurler Ryan Fogle offered in the top of the first inning at Liberty.

Doyle fouled off another pitch and watched the next two come in low for balls.

Then he connected, sending a fastball between first and second for a solid single.

After stealing second, Doyle came home for the Cougars’ first run on a Tyler Johnson single.

That at-bat won’t count, however. A lightning strike and then rain forced cancellation of the game.

But it illustrated the kind of batter and player the Kettle Run junior has become this season.

Doyle has 24 hits in 52 at-bats for an impressive .462 average this spring.

More impressive, he has an on-base percentage of .508 and a slugging percentage of .789.

He has five doubles, three triples and a pair of homers to his credit.

He also has 14 RBI, perhaps the most impressive stat of all, considering he bats No. 2 in Kettle Run’s lineup.

That feat reflects well on the rest of Kettle Run’s batters – especially those at the bottom of the order – but that’s another story.

“Brenton is the best batter we’ve ever had here at Kettle Run,” Coach Ty Thorpe said. “His bat speed is amazing, and he is and will improve.”

Doyle also has played well defensively.

The three-year starter moved to center field this season, after playing in left as a freshman and sophomore.

In center, he replaced Rollie Buffington, superb player who graduated last year.

“Rollie was an awesome player who had the ability to break games,” Coach Thorpe said. “Brenton is more of an offensive threat, though he has done well as our centerfielder this year.”

Doyle has 16 putouts and two outfielder assists.

Reid Merrican, the Cougars ace, knows if a ball gets past the infield, opposing base runners typically get limited to singles.

“He’s the fastest player on the team,” Merrican said. “He covers a lot of ground in the outfield and has a cannon arm. If I give up a single or double, he’ll hold them.”

Merrican thought his team wouldn’t be as good this year without Buffington.

Doyle has proven him wrong.

“We’re a better team,” Merrican said. “I think we will go further this year with Brenton’s bat and fielding. That’s a lot of confidence behind me when I am on the mound.”

Kettle Run last spring made it to a Virginia 3A East regional semifinal, losing 4-1 to Poquoson.

Doyle’s play has contributed significantly to the Cougars’ 4-0 mark in Conference 27 and 9-3 overall record.

Three of his teams’ wins came in a wooden bat spring-break tournament in Loudoun County.

High schoolers usually play with aluminum bats, mainly because of cost, as well as performance issues.

Plainly speaking, it takes greater skill to get on base with a wooden bat.

Yet Doyle hit .417 in three wooden bat games, and his towering two-run homer against Musselman led to the victory.

Unlike most players in the tournament, he had used a wooden bat previously.

Doyle also plays for the Richmond Braves, a tournament team that competes in showcase tournaments up and down the East Coach and Florida in the summer.

It gives high schoolers a chance to show their stuff to college and pro scouts..

The Kettle Run junior has played baseball almost since he could walk and has focused solely on that sport.

“I fell in love with the game the first time I stepped into the batter’s box,” Doyle said.

He started playing travel ball at age 8 and showcase ball his freshman year at Kettle Run.

Doyle started as a short, 5-foot-9 infielder, but a growth spurt two years ago proved to be the catalyst for the shift in positions. He grew to 6-1 last year, then 6-3.

“I have an uncle on my mom’s side who is 6-8,” Doyle said.
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