By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
MEMPHIS, Mo. — Cordie Kigar wanted to diversify his pitches. When the Scotland County junior decided to try a changeup, Canton's Tyler Niemann forced him back to his strengths.
Niemann crushed the changeup for a home run in the fourth inning.
"It was toward the end, I just had to take a couple deep breathes and keep pitching," Kigar said.
For the rest of Scotland County's 4-2 win over Canton March 19 in Canton, Mo., Kigar stuck with his fastball and curveball.
Kigar finished 15 strikeouts and threw 115 pitches. His strikeout total was two shy of his career high. Last season, Kigar struck out 17 against North Shelby.
Between innings, Kigar begged Burns to stay in the game.
"One of the great things about being inside all the time is that we have portable mounds, so he's been throwing and throwing and throwing," Scotland County Daniel Burns said. "I talked to him between every inning because I didn't want to get his pitch count up to high. He said his arm felt great, and he wanted to finish it out."
While his arm felt fine that day, the next one was a whole different feeling.
"That day I was all jacked up because we won," Kigar said. "The next day my shoulder was pretty sore."
Stepping into the No. 1 spot in the rotation for Kigar will be a change.
Last season, Kigar was behind Ben Shannan and Harley Stone. Now that those two have graduated, he's in the starring role.
"Really smoothly, actually," Burns said of Kigar stepping into the No. 1 spot. "Last year, he pitched for us a little bit, but he never had to take the reins like he had to do this year. ... He is just as far as Ben Shannan was at this time last year. He went to a lot of camps and played a lot of baseball over the summer. He's showed he's improved a lot."
Developing depth will be vital. Burns expects junior Austin Thrasher, who moved into the district from Florida last summer, to step into the No. 2 spot.
"He throws hard. He doesn't have as good of command," said Burns, whose team is 1-0. "He can throw hard and has a good curveball."
Kiger hopes he can continue to diversify as the season goes along.
"I need to work on placing the pitch and throwing more than two pitches," Kiger said. "I'm working on a slider and a changeup."