Q&A with Louisville-bound RHP Kyle Funkhouser

By Sean Duncan

Kyle Funkhouser established himself as one of the premier right-handed pitching prospects in the Midwest last year after he posted a perfect 12-0 record while leading Oak Forest to a runner-up finish in Class 3A. Armed with an 87-91 mph fastball and command of three pitches, Funkhouser racked up 134 strikeouts to 25 walks in 82.2 innings. He finished his junior campaign with a 0.84 ERA, which earned him Prep Baseball Report first-team All-State honors. In two varsity seasons, he’s amassed a 21-1 record. Funkhouser committed to the University of Louisville in the fall of his junior year. Funkhouser is currently ranked No. 3 in Illinois’ Class of 2012.

A conversation with Kyle Funkhouser, as it appeared in the Prep Baseball Report Class of 2012 special print magazine:

You accomplished so much last season, both personally and as a team. What are your goals for your senior season?
Winning state championship. It’s not all about personal records. We’re not satisfied with second place. We want to bring home a state championship.

Even though you’re not satisfied with second, no one really thought Oak Forest would be playing for a state championship. There has to be some satisfaction there.
We’ve all been playing together since 8, 9, 10 years old. We knew would be decent but didn’t know we would be playing into June. Last year, we had eight to 12 guys who you can look back at pictures as pinto players, and you have guys on your team. It’s very satisfying because we were in kindergarten together. It’s like Sandlot. It’s pretty cool, something you dream of.

You enjoyed an incredible junior season. What were your expectations heading into the season?
I had little bit of rough start as a sophomore; I lost my first start. Honestly, I didn’t know where I’d be. I kind of came in knowing I’d be one of better pitchers, but it’s hard to predict that you’d go 12-0 with a 0.84 ERA.

(Editor’s Note: Since that first loss as a sophomore, Funkhouser has won 20 consecutive games.)

It seemed like you made a significant jump from the end of your sophomore year to the spring of your junior year. Did you do anything different?
I kind of did the normal things I do. I guess the big thing was my sophomore year I played football (quarterback). My junior year, I quit football and played fall ball instead. I committed to Louisville in November, so fall ball kind of set up all my options. … It still kills me every day not to play football. Hate going to games now. It kills me to just watch.

How would descGet the Mag Small Adribe yourself as a pitcher?
I can locate a fastball in any count; can paint any corner. I can throw any pitch in any count. … I try to hit my spots and keep hitters off-balance. … When you’re a good player, you have to have that cocky edge. You have to look at it as no one is getting on for free. Got to make them earn it. … If you get ahead 0-1, 0-2, you’ve pretty much won the at-bat.

What do you to prepare for the baseball season?
I played three sports the first couple years, football, basketball and baseball. So I really didn’t have time to do a lot other than the sport I was playing. Fall of my junior year, I started working out more during fall.  I still play basketball, and it gets me in great shape.

You had so many great moments last year, including a five-inning perfect game against Shepard and two one-hitters. What was your most memorable game?
Our sectional championship game versus Joliet Catholic at Lincoln-Way West. It was such a great atmosphere, and we ended up winning 3-2 in the seventh.

(Editor’s Note: Funkhouser struck out 14 and walked one in a complete-game effort.)

What advice would you give to young players trying to get to your level?
I’ve got two things. I hate when coaches try to convince kids to be a one-sport athlete. That’s how you get hurt. You’re supposed to have an offseason; you need an offseason more as a kid. Basketball into baseball season gets you in the best shape. Basketball gets me into perfect shape. Usually I don’t throw until mid-to-late January.

The other piece advice is to find something you’re good at and work at and get better. You can get better every day.

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