Putney joins Homer High

Former Kodiak High School baseball player Mark Putney pitches in a game for George Fox University during the 2010 season. (Photo courtesy of George Fox University)

Kodiak graduate Mark Putney is planning to help a rival school next baseball season.

Putney recently accepted a teaching job at Homer High School. He also plans to be an assistant coach for the Homer Mariners baseball team.

“I haven’t talked to him (Homer coach Larry Kuhns) yet, but the principal explained to me how the coach was interested in having me out there,” Putney said during Saturday’s “Jock of the Rock” radio show on KMXT. “I probably will be helping out with pitching and anything else that needs to be done.”

Putney, a 2006 KHS grad, was a member of Kodiak’s 2004 state championship team. Putney said he was a bit nervous to tell his former coach Rick Langfitt about coaching for a rival Southcentral Conference school.

“He didn’t seem too upset,” Putney said. “He was pretty friendly still, so that was good.”

As of now, Putney will be teaching freshman English, physical education and computer applications.

Putney has plenty of baseball experience after spending four seasons on George Fox University’s baseball team. He graduated from the Newberg, Ore.-based school in 2010.

The right-handed pitcher is sprinkled throughout the Bruins’ record book. He pitched three seasons for the varsity team, going 16-7 during that time.

He is most proud of his 144 strikeouts, which is the 10th best mark in George Fox history.

“I wasn’t really a big strikeout pitcher still, but it was nice to be able to strike ’em out when I had bases loaded or guys on second and third and I needed to strike somebody out,” he said.

“I didn’t really think I would be striking college hitters out when I didn’t strike that many high school hitters out. That was a nice surprise.”

Putney said he also was surprised by the talent of Division III athletes.

“I can still remember being a freshman and pitching in fall ball if I could compete against these guys,” he said. “I had a lot to learn and a lot to figure out once I started practicing as a freshman.”

He spent a year on the junior varsity squad and got his first start on the varsity team during his sophomore season when he replaced an injured pitcher who had to have Tommy John surgery.

“It was unfortunate for him, but that is how I got into the game and I was able to do OK,” Putney said.

OK, indeed.

Putney earned a pair of All-Northwest Conference first-team awards and was the Bruins’ No. 1 starter his

senior season.

“It was pretty stressful sometimes, but I enjoyed it,” Putney said. “I was happy to be able to have that chance to be a leader on the team.”

Putney thought about trying to play professional baseball, but decided not to. Instead he went back to school to get a master’s degree.

“That was my dream growing up … then when I got older I realized I really didn’t throw hard enough and I wasn’t really a good enough athlete to play anything but pitcher.”

Putney said he hit 89 miles per hour a couple of times.

He will now teach what he learned during his time at George Fox University.

“I enjoy coaching and I get a lot of satisfaction with helping out kids,” Putney said. “There is so much you can show them.”

Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via email at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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