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Los Angeles Times 1996 All-Ventura Baseball Team |
PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kaup a Power Hitter

June 05, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK

Memories of watching the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., have never left Nathan Kaup, even though he and his family left the Midwest for California five years ago.

Kaup, born in Sioux City, Iowa, and a former resident of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, recalls traveling with his family to Omaha each year to watch the climax of the college baseball season. Most vividly, Kaup recalls one year in which Oklahoma State rallied for a dramatic victory.

"I was about 8 or 9, I guess," Kaup said. "It was a three-run home run, I believe."

Perhaps a few eyebrows arched when Kaup, a senior third baseman for Camarillo High, signed last November with Oklahoma State, considering USC was among several schools pursuing the 6-foot-3, 205-pound power hitter.

But for Kaup, the decision to return to his roots was easy.

"Oklahoma State was always kind of a childhood dream," he said. "I'm a Midwest boy."

Last week Kaup blasted a 450-foot home run against Ayala in the opening round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs. The shot impressed just about everyone in attendance--except Camarillo Coach Scott Cline, Kaup's batting-practice pitcher.

"On a daily basis, he takes me deep, takes me out of the yard," Cline said. "I've coached Nate for four years and I've never seen a kid transform into a ballplayer like he has. He has all the tools. There is no better player we've seen all season."

That assessment was all but confirmed when Kaup was voted co-player of the year by the Ventura County Coaches' Assn. Kaup had five home runs and 36 runs batted in. He also stole 17 bases in as many attempts.

Kaup might opt for other career plans, depending on the results of the amateur draft. His size, speed and power figure to make him a coveted choice among professional clubs.

"I'm very interested in the draft," Kaup said. "But I'm looking forward to college. It will be a big part of my life."

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