October 28, 2020

Lee Kay named Times-Georgian All-Area MVP

Article Courtesy of Corey Cusick and the Times-Georgian

(Franklin, GA) — One of the greatest chapters in the history of Heard County High School baseball came to a close thing spring.

But the book on Lee Kay’s career is far from over.

Following an amazing four-year run as the face of Braves’ baseball, Kay, the 2017 Times-Georgian All-Area MVP, is preparing to take his talents to the next level, leaving behind a legacy as one of the all-time greats to ever step foot on Alford Field.

The senior outfielder blistered opposing pitchers to the tune of a .469 average this past season, connecting on 45 base knocks, including seven doubles, three triples and two home runs with 40 runs scored and 33 RBI. Kay also drew 23 walks, as he struck out just two times in 125 plate appearances in 2017.

What makes those numbers even more impressive is how consistent they remained throughout his Heard County career.

During his four-year run, Kay led the Braves to a pair of elite eight appearances and a second-round state playoff showing this spring, was a three-time all-state selection, a two-time Region 5-AA Player of the Year and now a two-time Times-Georgian All-Area MVP.

The dynamic performer finished with a career average of .448, belting out 143 hits, 36 doubles, seven triples and six home runs with 127 runs scored and 101 RBI. Kay struck out just 21 times in 319 career at-bats. Those numbers could have been even greater had he not missed 19 games during his junior season after suffering a broken bone in his hand.

The Florida SouthWestern signee was also one of the top pitchers in the area and served as a No. 1 or No. 2 option for the Braves in each of the past four seasons, but he did the bulk of his damage at the plate as one of the most feared hitters across the state of Georgia.

Times-Georgian All-Area MVP Lee Kay (Photo: Corey Cusick/Times-Georgian)

Kay said it’s somewhat surreal to take it all in right now — understanding everything he accomplished at Heard County and realizing that it’s come to an end.

“It feels good, but kind of sad at the same time because the year didn’t end as we planned. We planned to make it past the elite eight. But, yeah, it feels weird to be out of high school. Usually at this time, I’m gearing up for next season. Now I’m gearing up for college ball,” Kay said.

Trent Bianco took over the Heard County program when Kay was an incoming freshman and the fourth-year head coach said it’s been an incredible journey to witness his rise to stardom, noting what really sets Kay apart is the work he puts in behind the scenes.

“You just can’t replace someone like that. Easily one of the best players to ever come through Heard County and our area,” Bianco said. “The thing about Lee is, you can say he’s one of the best players to come out of this area in a while, but he’s probably also one of the hardest-working kids to come out of this area. I can’t tell you how many times that we’d have a three, four-hour practice and after practice would end, he’d be in the cages hitting. He’d go home and do homework and come back and be in the cages at 9 o’clock at night. So there’s no secret to why he had a great career here. He put in the work. Easily one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever coached.”

Kay epitomized the term of being a five-tool player, but he added another dimension with his ability to toe the mound as a hard-throwing left-hander.

“A fantastic outfielder, a great base-runner and even a better hitter. Anything he can do, he can do it well. At the next level he’ll be an outfielder, but for us he’s been pretty close to being our No. 1 the last four years. That speaks to his competitiveness. He’s a team-first guy. Anything that he can do, whether it’s pitching, in the outfield, at the plate or on the bases, he was all for it,” Bianco said.

Kay noted that one of the major developments during his prep career was becoming a more patient and smarter hitter. He made pitchers pitch to his strike zone and if they didn’t he would take the walk and make them pay that way.

“Just get one pitch in mind and let that pitch be the one pitch I swing at,” Kay said.

One of Kay’s other key attributes was never settling or getting complacent despite being one of the best players in the state. He always wanted more and that’s why Bianco believes he’ll have a great career at the next level.

“The one thing about him is he makes great adjustments on the fly. The next level, you usually think there’s a big learning curve. For someone like Lee, I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a learning curve,” Bianco said.

“He’s such a smart hitter and how he approaches everything, I really expect him to step in and be really successful at Florida SouthWestern. I think they got a steal of a player. Anybody would be lucky to have somebody like him. A fantastic outfielder and an even better hitter. It’s going to be really fun to sit back and watch what he does over the next two years and the next two years wherever he is after that. He’s got a really bright future ahead of him.”

Kay is looking forward to the challenge of playing at Florida SouthWestern, where the goal is to ultimately move on to a Division I program after two years in the JUCO ranks.

“I want to play Division I baseball one day,” Kay said. “I’d like to bat above .350, .400 in college like I did in high school. I know that will take a lot more hard work than I’ve done in the past because the competition’s better.”

As he moves on to the collegiate game, Kay does so knowing he gave everything he had to the Heard County program. He said the past four years are something he’ll never forget.

“Hopefully, it’ll stick for a long time. Coach [Bianco] always talks about leaving it better than you found it. I feel like every senior class has done that,” Kay said. “I’m hoping that our senior class will leave that legacy and that tradition for the next four years to come.”

Because when Kay thinks of Heard County baseball, only one word comes to mind.

“Family. All the people that have graduated that I’ve become friends with,” Kay said. “It’s meant a lot to me, especially the coaching staff. They’ve made me into the player I am. It just means a lot to be a part of this program.”

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