Caney Valley High School, a 3A high school in Southeast Kansas right along the Oklahoma border around 20 miles north of Bartlesville, features one of the top sophomore baseball players in the state this season in Jace Kaminska.
Kaminska is having a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bullpups. He's coming off a 13 strikeout and no hitter performance against 3A #4 Humboldt this past week. Not only does the get it done on the mound he also is hitting. .484 with 31 hits, 26 runs, 22 RBI, 11 doubles, two homers. Kaminska has a 5-0 record on the mound this season with a 0.24 ERA. He has only allowed three hits all season while striking out 65 batters in 29 innings pitched.
Kaminska isn't an overnight success story either. He has been playing travel baseball since he has been 10 years old. has also played the Midwest Elite over the summer where he has seen top of the line competition. Kaminksa has ben clocked in the 84-87 range as a sophomore and hopes to add more speed as he continues to develop in high school.
"My goal is to ultimately play college baseball at a high level, but right now our focus is on getting to the state tournament and getting better over the next couple years." Kaminska said.
Caney Valley is also not a known baseball community but Kaminska is hoping to reach the 3A state tournament this season under his dad in Caney Valley head baseball coach Mike Kaminska. Caney has been one game short of the state tournament the last three seasons falling in the regional championship. Cole Ellis is also having a breakout year for the Pups batting .368 this season w/ 25 hits, he's also 3-1 on the mound. The Bullpups are off to a 13-7 mark as they enter regional play Monday as they take on Erie in round one. (regional bracket)
"State baseball would be a dream come true for alot of the boys on the team. Especially coming from this area where baseball isn't praise upon." Kaminska said.
We caught up with the outstanding sophomore below in the latest Q&A edition of Faces in Kansas.
Kaminska Farms, Inc. would like to wish the Caney Valley Bullpups best of luck at regionals and congratulate Jace Kaminska on an outstanding sophomore season so far!
Q&A w/ Kaminska
How did you get involved with sports?
My dad got me first involved with sports. He had me hitting off a tee right after I could walk.
What are the goals and expectations this season?
The goal as a team is to make it to state. Our school has not been in a long time. The team is young and we still have a few more years to try. Some of my goals are to get the batting average over .500 and hit a few more homeruns. Pitching wise I think just keep going down the path I'm on.
When did you start pitching? And when did you know you would be pretty good?
I started pitching at age 10. That was the first year I played travel baseball. I was wild, but it wasn't until about age twelve I started throwing strikes. I really just thought I was good. That changed after my freshman summer. I pitched against the Midwest elite and lost 1-0 to a kid throwing 91 mph.
What is it like to go to your school?
It is kind of tough going to my school with Oklahoma less than a mile away. Also my school is a track and football school and people don't care as much about baseball.
So young and already achieving big things what has that been like?
It is hard to make adjustments from playing the elite level and then going back to school ball. It is fun to play but it really humbles myself.
How awesome would it be to make state baseball?
State baseball would be a dream come true for a lot of the boys on the team. Especially coming from this area where baseball isn't praised upon.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Some of my strengths are getting out of a tight jam on the mound without getting hurt on the scoreboard. Another thing is getting ahead in the pitch count and getting timely hits.
Take us through what kind of training you go through year-round?
As far as training the day summer ball ends I don't touch a baseball until January. That way my arm can rest. I do lift weights but nothing crazy. Starting in January I play a lot of long toss 3 or 4 nights a week. I am always hitting year-round either at home or with a coach.
Have you been contacted by any college and is baseball something you want to do in college? Also how hard are you throwing and what’s your key pitch?
I have just been talking to the local juco' s, but I would like to go somewhere bigger. I got a little attention playing for the Midwest elite. They are probably the best team in the U.S.. Right now I'm throwing 84-87 mph hoping to pick up a few more mph this summer. Last year at this time I was at 80 and ended up hitting 86 mph, so who knows? Baseball is the dream job for me. It's hard to say what could happen in the next two years.
Other key athletes on your team this ear and what type of team do you have?
Some key athletes on the team are the two Ellis brothers. They moved here from Iowa and have a lot to do with our teams success. Cole Ellis is a junior and Jake is a freshman. Neither one of them were pitchers until this year. The team is really just full of a bunch of kids that want to have fun. It doesn't matter the end result as long as they can joke and play around.
What’s it like to play for your dad as the head coach?
Playing for my dad isn't bad. It is actually harder on me. I can't get away with little things like the others can. The thing that really stinks is I can't get extra reps or it isn't fair to the other kids. But my dad is a great coach. He had taken is to the regional championship game the past 3 years. Just one game short of state. He does all of this for me though to protect my arm from getting overused.
Best player you’ve ever faced and who are some of the key ones this year?.
The best player I have ever faced it's hard to say. I have played against the top kids in the nation. A few of the the kids are Nate Wohlgemuth, Trevor Martin, and Fax Fulton. Martin is going to Oklahoma State and Fulton to Vanderbilt.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that and your goals/accomplishments?
I play basketball and I am on the varsity team. I just play for my footwork and to get in shape for baseball. This year we went to state, but got beat the first round. I quit playing football after eighth grade. It was just too much of a risk for me playing.
What is it like to grow up in your town?
Growing up in my town is really nice. I live in Tyro, Ks the population is about 100. The only thing the town has is a church. I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else though. It has helped me a lot living on a good sized farm/ ranch. I have learned how to work hard for what you got.
Favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school is P.E. if it counts. If not I am pretty good at math.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Ten years from now I don't really know. I hoped to be playing baseball on TV. But if not I could see myself taking over my great uncle's oil company.
Best place to eat in your surrounding area?
The best place to eat in the area is El Pueblito Mexican restaurant. I could eat there 2 or 3 nights a week.