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The former Pulaski County star, who wears No. 13, will try to become the first UVa player to play in three College World Series.
Courtesy of UVa
Jared King was 0-20 in NCAA play over two seasons before ripping a double Sunday against Elon.
Courtesy of UVa
A former Pulaski County baseball star, Jared King started 202 games in four season for Virginia.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — With all the adversity Jared King has faced as a young man, what could have possessed him to wear No. 13?
“I’ve worn it since I was 10 years old,” said King, a fifth-year senior on Virginia’s baseball team. “I was always the biggest kid in rec league and that was the biggest jersey.
“Most people take it to be unlucky so I thought I’d try to make it lucky.”
The first baseman says he’s not superstitious, but then there’s the case of the batting gloves he donned for last weekend’s Charlottesville Regional.
Two weeks earlier, he had not worn gloves for a weekend series at North Carolina
“I do that from time to time,” said King, who fills the No. 2 spot in the Cavaliers’ batting order. “That’s one of those superstitious things you do to try and change things up.”
It brings to mind the line from Michael Scott, the character played by Steve Carrell in the situation comedy, “The Office.”
“I’m not superstitious but I’m a little stitious,” Scott said.
Much has been written about the death of King’s parents, his father, Danny, when he was a sophomore in high school and his mother, Brenda, during Jared’s first year at Virginia.
Jared sketches the initials “BK” and “DK” into the dirt behind first base and then points skyward before each game but he has never displayed a “why me?” attitude.
As a sophomore on the Pulaski County basketball team, he did wear No. 31 for one season but that couldn’t be helped.
“He had just come up to the varsity,” Pulaski County athletic director and basketball varsity coach Mark Hanks said, “and we didn’t have a No. 13. We’d never had a [No.] 13 before.
“We ordered new jerseys before the next season and he said he wanted to be No. 13 again. When they’re that good, you see what you can do.”
Hanks thinks King could have played college basketball and King’s basketball prowess has been the object of a trivia question since the end of this year’s college season.
In 2008, the year that Hidden Valley senior and future Final Four most outstanding player Luke Hancock was named second-team All-Timesland, guess who was named first-team All-Timesland?
It was King, also a counter on the Cougars’ golf team.
“Hidden Valley was 9-1 [in the River Ridge District] and we were 9-1,” Hanks said. “Hidden Valley had Ben Boggs and Luke, so you’d have to say ‘Red’ was a worthy choice.”
He’s called “Red” because of his red hair and because it’s short for Jared. Also, “Red” was what his mother called him.
King and Hancock were teammates in the Virginia High School Coaches’ Association basketball all-star game following the 2007-2008 season.
“I’m so proud of that kid,” King said. “We’ve kept in touch a little bit and I got to see him play when he was at [George] Mason. I remember when he was considering coming here and I sent him a message. I would have loved to show him around.”
After two seasons at George Mason, Hancock transferred to Louisville, where he became eligible this season.
“He wasn’t recruited highly and he went where out of high school, Hargrave?” King said. “He really made something out of himself.”
The same could be said for King, who was not heavily recruited but has started 181 games for UVa and Sunday appeared in the 200th game of his college career, an 11-3 victory over Elon that put the Cavaliers in the super regionals this weekend against visiting Mississippi State.
Should Virginia advance, King could have the distinction of becoming the first Cavlier to play in three College World Series. He was a starter in the 2009 College World Series, then underwent a shoulder operation that caused him to miss the 2010 season.
He’s been a battler, maybe best evidenced this season when an eventual game-winning hit at North Carolina came on the 33rd pitch he had faced that evening.
King led the Cavaliers in bases on balls last season with 51 (nobody else had more than 35) and ranks fourth on UVa’s career list with 123, though his walks have dropped to 37 this season.
He admits that he might have become preoccupied with on-base percentage last season and that he may have become a little tentative by the time the postseason came around.
He doesn’t deny that he’s become more aggressive this year.
“Very much so,” said King, who batted clean-up for part of the 2012 season but is now in the No. 2 spot. “My role has been to move runners and hit the ball the other way, more so than driving in runs.”
UVa batting coach Kevin McMullan said the No. 2 hitter needs a multiple-skills package.
“He’s simplified his approach quite a bit and is not trying to play cat-and-mouse with the pitcher,” McMullan continued.
King was 0-for-20 in NCAA play over two seasons before ripping a double down the left-field line Sunday against Elon. He followed that with an opposite-field single the next inning.
“Until I read about the 0-for-20, I had no idea,” McMullan said. “When he struggles for two or three at-bats, he bounces back. Last year, he didn’t recover as quickly.”
King has made no secret of his desire to coach one day and is not dwelling on the Major League Baseball Draft later this week.
“If the call comes, I’d listen, but I’m still walking away from here with a Masters degree,” he said. “I have a lot of things in my future whether that comes up or not.”
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