On the mend and hoping to soon be back on the mound, this hard-throwing pitcher from Upstate New York is eyeing a return to the College World Series in Omaha.

Roman Kimball, of New Hartford, had to sit out all of the this season with the South Carolina Gamecocks after undergoing Tommy John surgery due to a tear in ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) last fall.

The injury came not long after his debut in the CWS last season with Notre Dame, when during his freshman campaign Kimball posted a 4-0 record in 17 relief appearances including two-thirds of inning of scoreless relief during the 2022 national tournament in Omaha.

Roman Kimball (left, No. 26) poses with Notre Dame Irish teammates ahead of 2022 College World Series. (photo submitted by Kimball)
Roman Kimball (left, No. 26) poses with Notre Dame Irish teammates ahead of 2022 College World Series. (photo submitted by Kimball)

But after head coach Link Jarrett left the Irish to coach Florida State, Kimball explored the transfer portal and opted to head back to South Carolina University - not far from the prep school in Lexington that he attended for his senior year of high school, he told WIBX 950 last week.

"The atmosphere was incredible and the fan base was really cool. And, obviously it's the SEC so it's a step-up in competition as well," Kimball recounted about his decision to head to SC.

Roman Kimball (center) with the South Carolina Gamecocks - via Roman Kimball
Roman Kimball (center) with the South Carolina Gamecocks - via Roman Kimball

Kimball became another promising young arm to deal with Tommy John, and shared his thoughts on why so many young hurlers, including himself, have to go through it.

"The age for Tommy John has gone down significantly. I think the average age to have it today is 18...the reason that is, is kids throw so much harder now than they did back in the day. You see high schoolers now, it's pretty common to throw in the mid-90's and 17, 18-year-olds, some are throwing a 100-MPH. Your body isn't fully developed at that point so the extra stress causes the ligament to tear at a younger age now," Kimball said.

On his rehab and plans for the near future, he told WIBX: "I plan on coming back next year and playing for South Carolina. I'm really happy with where I am and I'm excited for the future of this team and the program in the upcoming years."

Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers
Jacob deGrom with Texas Rangers - credit: Getty Images

His surgeon for the procedure was Dr Keith Meister, currently employed by the Texas Rangers and the same doctor who handed the surgeries of MLB stars like Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander (both Cy Young winners) and Tyler Glasnow.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets - Game Two
Justin Verlander with the New York Mets, credit: Getty Images

2024 will be Kimball's junior year academically, but the surgery setback means he'll be considered a redshirt sophomore on the diamond.

He started throwing at a distance of 90 feet earlier this month and will spend much of the summer continuing his rehab program to build strength in preparation for next season, he said.

Listen to the full interview with Roman Kimball from WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning:


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