Following a freshman campaign that saw him earn Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors, University of Louisville pitcher Kyle Funkhouser was expected to fill a more important role during his second year with the Cardinals and he's delivering.
The righty from Oak Forest, Ill., has settled into the Friday starter role and currently leads the team in innings pitched (79.0), strikeouts (73) and has the lowest ERA (2.05) among starting pitchers. Most importantly, he has won 9 of his 12 starts.
In his last outing, the opening game of a key three-game set at conference foe South Florida, Funkhouser was solid in helping the Cardinals claim a 3-1 victory. He stuck out 8, while giving up just 4 hits and throwing a scoreless 7.1 innings.
"I struggled in the first a little bit again and Coach Williams had to make another mound visit," said Funkhouser. "He said to trust your stuff, get ahead and do what you are capable of doing and after that I was pretty clean. I think I had a first and third later in the game and then Cole [Sturgeon] comes in and gets a double play."His effort landed him the honor of being named the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.
"It feels good, especially since [USF's Jimmy Herget] threw on Saturday and he threw really well, as well," he said. "It's a great honor because there are so many good pitchers in this league."
U of L pitching coach Roger Williams has been impressed by the progress of Funkhouser. While he needs to do a better job of finding his rhythm early and remaining focused throughout his time on the mound, his development has him on par with previous great Friday starters.
"He's understanding of things he needs to do to be successful," Williams told Cardinal Authority. "He's got a great arm and good stuff. You look at him mechanically and he's rock solid. Sometimes he just needs to keep himself on task because he'll maybe lose his focus at times and that's why you see a guy who throws as clean as he does, but he has maybe five walks in a game and he should never have that."Funkhouser is next scheduled to pitch on Friday against AAC opponent Temple in Philadelphia.
"He's done what the other great one's on Friday night have done in this program. That's get us to the seventh inning or more on a consistent basis and give us a chance to win. That was the challenge set out for him when we moved him to Friday and in that regard, Kyle has been outstanding for us and has given us that opportunity."