Royalty, Stevens pick Spalding

August 01, 2003


Staff Writer

Kyle Stevens and T.J. Royalty are going to get to know each other much better soon. And probably more important to them, they're about to get the chance to play for championships.

The two area baseball players will be roommates and teammates at Spalding University, a burgeoning NAIA power in Louisville.

Stevens, a left-handed pitcher from Danville, and Royalty, an outfielder from Mercer County, each signed with Spalding earlier this week.

"The first thing the coach said was, 'You'll get a chance to win a national championship,'" Stevens said. "That caught my attention."

"It's just going to be an awesome experience," said Royalty.

The Pelicans have played in the NAIA World Series the last two years, going 1-2 in last year's tournament at Lewiston, Idaho, to cap a season in which they went 52-20.


Royalty said he looks forward to playing for Spalding coach Kevin Kocks.

"I really liked coach Kocks and his attitude," Royalty said. "He seemed like he was focused on winning. Being part of his program is going to make me a better ballplayer."

Stevens' size (6-4) and the fact that he is left-handed could make him valuable.

"Including me, they only have three left-handers on their staff right now," he said. "I might throw middle relief or whatever."

Stevens, who chose Spalding over Carson-Newman and Walters State (Tenn.) JC, was 9-4 with a 2.17 earned-run average for Danville this season. He had 98 strikeouts and allowed 69 hits and 32 walks in 81 innings.

Royalty, who chose the school over Cumberland, hit .450 for Mercer with 11 home runs and 31 runs batted-in. He was also 9-for-9 in stolen-base attempts.

A combination of athletic and academic grants will essentially cover all of Stevens' college costs, and Royalty said he also received "a pretty good package" from the school.

Though they played for different high schools, it won't be the first time Royalty and Stevens have been on the same side. They have played on the same summer team the past two years.

"It pretty much made my decision when I heard he was going to go, too," Stevens said.

Royalty said the two plan to share an apartment in Louisville.

"We've gotten to know each other pretty good," Royalty said. "It helps a whole lot."|None***

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