Going into regular season play, there is no other pitcher that coach Tim Jamieson wants to give the ball to on Friday nights than starter Kyle Gibson.
Gibson is the number one starter this season for Mizzou, but he hasn't reached this point without hard work and dedication.
"I've been working 2 and a half years to get to where I am now, and the last 2 years have been awesome. It's great to be in a situation where your team trusts you to go out and win the first game, and not just the first game of the season, but the first game of every series," Gibson told InsideMizzou.
Gibson certainly has pitched well in his 2 years at Mizzou. In 2007 as a freshman, Gibson went 8-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 appearances. He followed up his impressive freshman campaign with a stellar 2008, in which he went 9-4 with a 3.84 ERA. The Tigers are now leaning on Gibson as their ace of the staff, and he certainly sounds ready for the challenge.
"I love being the guy that the team puts the confidence in to go out and get the series started off right. I want to be the guy that starts the season off right."
Gibson doesn't feel the pressure of replacing Aaron Crow, who was drafted in the Top 10 of the 2008 MLB Draft.
"Aaron was phenomenal last year. Those are big shoes to fill, but I just have to go out there and throw my heart out and give my team the best chance to win."
If Gibson can build on his last two seasons as a Tiger, then he will give the team a chance to win quite often. But he isn't expecting to have his best stuff each and every time he goes to the mound.
"The great pitchers are pretty much defined by if they can win when they don't have their best stuff. I haven't been too challenged by that so far [in practice], so hopefully I'm able to work through that when the season comes around. Not every start I'm going have my best stuff. So, I'm definitely looking forward to those challenges."
Now that the season is underway, Gibson can't help but look forward to the games ahead. The team will be facing Oregon State and Arizona State, two teams that start the season off ranked in Baseball America's preseason poll in the upcoming weeks, and the team is ready to get started.
"It's good for us. In the beginning of the season, to play the Arizona States, to play the Oregon States…it is going to be a good test for us. We're going to actually see really quick if we think we are where we think we are. To say that we are ranked number 10 in the nation, we're going to find out pretty quick if we actually deserve that, playing those tough teams."