NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Kevin Culp of Canfield is serious about playing baseball and studying mathematics at Westminster College.
That's why the junior first baseman and pitcher led the Titans in hitting (.427, 32-for-75) this season, and enjoys a 3.45 grade-point average that earned him a berth on the Verizon Academic All-District College Division second team.
Culp also is one of the reasons why Westminster produced its second-highest win total in school history (23-9) and qualified for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division II Championships for the second straight year under third-year coach Sean Kelly.
"Baseball is very important to every one on the team," said Culp, who scored 19 runs and drove in 19, shared the team lead in homers (four) and had four doubles. "We are not getting athletic scholarships. We are playing because we want to play. There is a lot of personal incentive."
Eyes actuarial science
Culp said his studies in mathematics are setting the groundwork for a career in actuarial science, a field "relating to statistical calculation, especially relating to life expectancy," defines Webster's Dictionary.
Culp plans to perform an internship as an actuary this summer for Buck Consultants in Pittsburgh, a company that specializes in pensions; and expects to do "a little bit of forecasting to see how much the company pays out in the future," he said.
He also did an internship after his freshman year at Delphi Automotive in Warren in the computer department, learning installations.
Culp said he enjoyed "my best season so far" at the plate because he played more than last year.
"I split time last year. I didn't play every game," he said.
But this year, "Playing consistently in the lineup all the time has helped my hitting," said Culp, who liked batting No. 6 in the batting order.
"I was batting behind some of our better hitters. I probably saw some better pitches," said Culp. "They were giving me some good pitches. They don't want to walk the No. 6 hitter."
Culp also said preparation and recruiting played big roles in the team's prosperity.
"I think conditioning helped a lot. There was a group of players on the team who did a lot on [their] own hitting and running," said Culp. "The recruiting has been a lot better this year."
He said the team was young and tight-knit. "We didn't have any seniors on the team. We were a young team. We were pretty close on the team. We hang out together and that helped to make a better atmosphere," he explained.
Culp also fared well as a pitcher after overcoming a lackluster start.
"I had some trouble at first. I didn't do as well as I liked, but the last five or six games, I turned things around and pitched like I wanted to," said Culp, who compiled a 4-4 record with a 5.03 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 21 walks in 532/3 innings. "It was a matter of locating pitches and changing speed."
After struggling with a 1-4 record earlier in the campaign, Culp recovered to post a 3-0 record to help fuel Westminster's strong run of 13 wins in the final 14 regular season games.
In the ECAC playoffs, Culp absorbed the loss in the Titans' opener of a best-of-3 series against host Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, N.H. The Titans lost 7-2 and 6-5 in the first two games.
While at Canfield High, Culp played three years of varsity baseball under coaches Dick Duffett and Lee Frey.
Gesacion also stars
Culp had several teammates from the area, including freshman outfielder Kevin Gesacion (Boardman) High, who batted .337 (34-for-101). Gesacion also scored 24 runs with 13 RBIs, four doubles, four triples and one homer.
Part-time starters were sophomores Justin Joseph (New Castle), an infielder, and Niels Jorgensen (Wilmington Area), a first baseman-outfielder. Joseph batted .327 (16-for-49) with nine runs and eight RBIs. Jorgensen batted .302 (19-for-63) with nine runs and seven RBIs.
Also on the roster were Brad Hochendoner (Ursuline), a freshman catcher; Eric Pellegrini (Girard), a junior infielder; Joe Getsy (Lowellville), a sophomore pitcher, and James Polish (Fitch), a freshman first baseman-outfielder.
Sidelined was Matt Robison (Wilmington Area), a sophomore who had pre-season back surgery.