The COVID-19 pandemic put an unexpected and early end to the 2020 spring seasons. As a result, traditional Senior Days were also canceled for spring sports. Please join us in recognizing and honoring our senior student-athletes through the tribute written by their coach below.
Four members of the baseball program have joined the exclusive class of Kalamazoo College Baseball Alumni. While 2020 will most notably be remembered for the pandemic of COVID-19, the class of 2020 has several other attributes that should be recalled. Despite their shortened senior season, the class of 2020 graduates as the fourth winningest class in program history with 71 wins. Playing in 128 games, the group of seniors helped the program have three winning seasons in their four years, two of the seasons were 20-plus win seasons, including the school record of 31 wins their freshmen year. The group also helped the program compile back-to-back second-place finishes in the MIAA in 2017 and 2018. We celebrate the four graduating members of the 2020 class today.
Nick Kelley, Catcher, Centerville, MI
Nick Kelley came to Kalamazoo College from Centerville High School in Centerville, Michigan. Kelley immediately became known for his work ethic and team-first mentality, and this was showcased over his four seasons. While only competing in nine games, due to an oft-injured shoulder, Kelley was an important figure in the program working behind the plate in the bullpen and at practices. His energy for his teammates never waned, and the entire program felt his impact so much that he was named "Teammate of the Year" in both his junior and senior seasons. Nick ended his career on a high note gathering his first collegiate hit and RBI on the Hornets opening 2020 west coast trip, ripping a double down the line against Cal Tech. Kelley will graduate with a degree in business and a concentration in African studies and will be pursuing a career near Kalamazoo. He is honored with his parents, Patrick & Beth, and his girlfriend Sydney Pedersen.
John Kunec, RHP, Ann Arbor, MI
John Kunec hails from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and was an important part of the Kalamazoo pitching staff over his four seasons. Known for his competitiveness and work ethic, the senior right-hander showcased that making 40 appearances in his career, with two of those being starts. Kunec was an integral part of the back end of the Hornets bullpen, where he compiled 49.2 innings while striking out 55 batters and notching three wins and three saves in his career. In his sophomore and junior seasons, John was second on the team in appearances, including making 19 appearances his sophomore season, which is the third-most in program history in a season. Kunec was tied for the most appearances on the team with four in his shortened senior season. John will graduate with a degree in economics from Kalamazoo College and will be pursuing a career in marketing or sales. He is honored with his parents Rob and Jennifer.
Zach Prystash, OF, Northville, MI
Zach Prystash was no stranger to black and orange as he came to Kalamazoo from Northville High School, where they share the same school colors. Making an immediate impact in his career, the southpaw outfielder played in 35 games as a freshman. This would be the least amount of games he would appear in, until his shortened senior season where he played in all seven of the Hornets contests. Over his career, Prystash played in 116 games and collected 224 at-bats in 273 plate appearances and ended his career hitting .308 in his senior campaign. The versatile nature of Prystash's game was key to the Hornet's success as he garnered starting roles in both center and left field. No matter where he was in the outfield, he was a stellar defender, only making four errors in his career. Prystash, who was a four-year MIAA Academic Honor Roll member, will graduate from K with a degree in economics and a political science minor, and will be working as an Associate Surety Underwriter at Liberty Mutual Surety. He is honored with his parents, David and Lisa.
Jack Tagget, RHP, Frankenmuth, MI
Jack Tagget came to Kalamazoo College from Frankenmuth High School and was immediately on the mound for the Hornets in his freshman season. Splitting time as a starter and a reliever, the right-hander was crucial in aiding the program to its record 31-win season. Over his career, Tagget made 37 appearances. In his junior and senior season, Jack was only a starting pitcher and finished his career with 16 starts. Going 10-7 over his four years, the strike-throwing right-handed pitcher tallied 110 innings pitched, 93 strikeouts, two complete games, one save, and one shutout, which came in the first start of his senior season over Cal Tech, and his career ERA of 4.50 is good for eighth-best in school history. In his junior season, Jack led the team in innings pitched, starts and wins and was second in strikeouts and complete games. Saving his best for last, the senior ended his career with a 2-0 record with a 1.50 ERA and 12 strikeouts in the shortened season. He led the 2020 team in complete games, innings pitched, shutouts, starts and wins. Named a captain for his senior season, Tagget had become one of the leaders and voices of the Hornets program. A four-year MIAA Academic Honor Roll member, Tagget will graduate with a degree in business and will be pursuing a career in finance. He is honored with his parents, Pat and Kathy, and his brother Sam.
The Hornets baseball program is thankful for the dedication, impact, and work that these four members of the program have made in their careers. They have left the program in a great position and will be missed as they join the family of Kalamazoo College Baseball alumni.