Payton Kinney, a senior right-handed pitcher for the UNO baseball team, received the NCAA National Player of the Week award for his pitching performance last Sunday against the Ohio Bobcats. Kinney was able to strike out nine batters, while walking four en route to throwing the second no-hitter since UNO baseball entered Division I play. Kinney says that he’s come close to throwing a no-hitter before.
“I had a few chances [to throw a no-hitter] back in high school, but they got broken up in the last inning every time. After I got the first out in the ninth, I honestly went numb and got an incredible rush of adrenaline. All I could see was Adam’s mitt and just tried to throw decent pitches and not let myself get too excited… I just kept telling myself it’s not over and to stay locked in,” Kinney said.
Kinney was able to strike out his final two batters to secure the no-hitter for the Mavericks, throwing an impressive 140 pitches in the process. Kinney was asked how his arm felt after pitching for the entire game. He said, “Honestly not bad at all, I play catch and long toss nearly every day year-round so throwing a few more pitches than usual isn’t a big deal at all.”
Kinney’s father played baseball at Washburn for the Topeka Stars back in his prime, and Kinney says that his father has been a huge role model.
“When I was little, he would tell stories of his pitching days and we’d play catch every single day. To this day when I’m struggling on the mound, I’ll talk to him and he can usually diagnose the problem really fast.”
A general studies major, Kinney says it’s hard to find time for hobbies sometimes when balancing academics and athletics. When he’s not working on school or baseball, Kinney says that you can find him either hunting or fishing. Kinney also has a passion for the sport of golf saying that, “Golf is something I’ve really gotten into the past few years and I love working and developing my golf game just like I do baseball.”
A transfer student from Southeast Community College, he has been able to develop a special relationship with the coaches in his one short year at UNO, including his pitching coach Brett Swain.
Kinney said, “He’s done a really good job of bringing structure to the pitching staff. We have a plan for what the pitchers should be doing every day. Whether that be throwing program, PFP’s or our conditioning. Having structure is a very important part of being successful.”
Following an overall rough season last year, an early no-hitter has boosted morale and gotten the Mavericks some national prominence. Welcome to history, Payton Kinney.