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July 4, 2008

Gibson excited to be part of national team

On June 24th, Mizzou junior Kyle Gibson was selected to the USA National Collegiate Team. The team selected 20 members in all, which included nine pitchers, nine hitters, and a pair of two-way players.

"They had like 15 of us come in a room at the same time and told us at once. It was pretty exciting," Gibson said. "I was overjoyed, but at the same time I had to hold that in because the other guys did not make it. I always worked hard as a kid to make it to this level and levels above this. I hope it's a stepping-stone."

Fellow teammate, junior outfielder Aaron Senne also tried out for the team, but was unable to make the team. Senne batted .286 with 3 home runs during the tryouts. Gibson roomed with Senne during the trip and was sad to have to part ways.

"He wished me good luck and obviously wanted to go over there. He kept it all in perspective and handled it pretty well," Gibson said.

Gibson finished the tryouts with a 1-1 record while striking out 11 in 8 innings of work. Making batters whiff is nothing new for Gibson. He finished second this year behind Aaron Crow with 96 strikeouts in route to a 9-4 record for the Tigers.

Gibson started the year on fire with the Tigers and quickly complied a 6-0 record before his first loss of the year to Texas Tech in April. Towards the end of the season, Gibson was removed from his starting role and made appearances out of the bullpen. Coming out of the bullpen was something that he also did as a freshman.

With their ace Aaron Crow currently working his way through the Washington Nationals system, the No. 1 spot is up for grabs in the Tigers rotation. Not only would Gibson like to reclaim a spot in the starting rotation, but he would also like to become their go-to-guy.

"I talked to coach Jamieson before I left," he said. "I asked him what I had to do to step into the Friday night role and he said I was going to have to be the best pitcher out there. I think I have worked hard over the last few years and as long as I am the best on the staff, I will be there."

On his journey to becoming Mizzou's best pitcher, Gibson will use his experience with the National Collegiate Team. Joining him the rotation will be other elite college pitchers that Gibson can study from to improve his game.

"I think it will be a lot like last summer. I had a chance to play with Aaron Crow and watch how he approaches the game. Now I am on a team with guys like Stephen Strasburg and Andrew Oliver. To watch them day in and out will be a good learning experience," he said.

Now that Gibson is an upperclassman, other Tiger pitchers and teammates will be watching him in a similar fashion.

"Being an upperclassman, I don't think I need to perform better, but I need to work hard day in and out and show what kind of work ethic is required," Gibson said. "We don't want to have that feeling again this year (of losing in the postseason). I think everyone needs to see the upperclassman work hard, and that is going to be my job."

Although he will be working to improve his game during his time with the National team, Gibson is also looking forward to the overall experience of playing outside of America.

"I would say this is different than anything I have ever really experienced. Even as a kid, I did not get to go to the Dominican or Puerto Rico like many of the other kids I knew," he said.

Gibson and his new team will begin play next month in the Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands and at the FISU World Championship in the Czech Republic.

Missouri NEWS


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