King of the Hill
Whether on the mound, in the batter’s box or in the field, Cavs’ Hendel was county’s standout in 2011
Peter Hendel is the 2011 Union County Weekly Baseball Player of the Year for a very good reason. Not only did he start the season with a complete-game no-hitter, he also came on in relief in Cuthbertson’s second game of the season and finished off a no hitter.
That was just the start of a very special senior season for the left-handed hurler.
Hendel will now take his craft to the University of North Carolina to see if he can help the Tar Heels earn back-to-back trips to the College World Series. The Cuthbertson High School grad knows that he has a lot of work ahead of him to make an impact next season.
“I have taken the summer off of travel ball,” said Hendel. “UNC gave me an extensive program to follow and I just wanted to follow it and work hard so that I can make the staff and contribute in my first year.”
Hendel’s extensive offseason program includes a 10-page guide sent to him by the Tar Heel coaching staff that will help him strengthen his arm and legs in hopes that the young left-handed pitcher can add some velocity to his arsenal. Hendel’s coach at Cuthbertson, Travis Little, explained that while Hendel threw hard for a high school pitcher, he also was a key outfielder, and playing three or four games each week tends to sap some strength from a pitcher’s arm.
“When Peter threw the no-hitter to start the season he was topping out at 89 miles per hour,” said Little. “But we had a tough schedule this spring with all of the rain. We moved games around and were playing four games per week. I think that took some velocity from Peter on a consistent basis. He was in the mid 80s, but at UNC he should get stronger being on a regular throwing program and I think that you will see him (throwing) in the 90s in no time.”
Hendel’s pitching prowess allowed him to be among Union County’s leaders in ERA (.67), strikeouts (105) and wins (eight). But Hendel was far from a defensive specialist; he was among the county’s offensive leaders, hitting better than .400 with six home runs and 38 RBIs while helping the Cavaliers emerge as one of North Carolina’s top Class 2A teams. Cuthbertson also climbed to the 10th spot in the nation, according to Baseball America’s high school rankings, finishing the season with a record of 24-3.
Hendel will start his fall program at UNC on August 23 when the team begins scrimmaging in preperation for the spring season. He said that he looks forward to the opportunity to contribute in any way the Tar Heels may need, even if that means returning to his centerfield position and getting a few hacks at the plate.
Hendel said that his ultimate goal is to play professionally, and judging from the amount of scouts at some of the Cavs’ games this season, they’re interested in him, too. While he didn’t get drafted this spring, Little feels that a few years of college will serve Hendel well in his future pursuit of becoming a professional baseball player.
“Peter is a great kid and a hard worker,” said Little. “(Former Oakland Athletics general manager) Billy Beane’s ‘Money Ball’ design says that the college players have a better way paved for them than the kids who are drafted out of high school. I believe that will be the case for Peter.
“He will get stronger and much better in college and then I truly believe that he will be drafted and pitch in the pros,” Little said. “This is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for a truly great player and person that he is.”