When watching practice, Kenneth Chiu may seem like any other relief pitcher for the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point baseball team. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Chiu, 20 years old, is a transfer student from Hong Kong, China. Back home, Chiu participated on the Hong Kong national team, competing against teams from all across China.
But being far away from home isn’t the only thing unique about Chiu; he is also a submarine pitcher.
For those who don’t know, submarine pitchers throw almost underhand, so that their hand almost touches the ground when they throw.
Chiu said that when he was 12 years old he was approached by one of his coaches who thought he had the body flexibility to throw submarine, and he went with it from there.
"Throwing submarine is more about mechanics and body flexibility," Chiu said. "I love this way of delivery."
Because Chiu’s fastball only reaches the mid 70’s, he relies on deception and the unfamiliarity hitters encounter when he pitches.
"It is a difficult adjustment for hitters to switch their focus from a spot that might be six feet off the ground, to inches off the ground," said Pointer baseball head coach Pat Bloom.
Chiu chose Stevens Point because he wanted to get away from all of the distractions in a big city to come to a more peaceful place.
"I was looking for a place where I could more likely focus in school without a lot of distractions. A small, quiet and peaceful place like Stevens Point actually fits well," Chiu said.
But just coming to Stevens Point wasn’t the end to Chiu getting on the baseball team; he had to try out with all of the other walk-ons and recruited players to attempt to make the squad.
"I had no idea who Kenny Chiu was until our informational meeting the first week of school," Bloom said.
"I knew there was a tryout in the fall," Chiu said. "I didn’t know all the players in that tryout were recruited by our head coach from all around Wisconsin. I was one of the few walk-on players in that tryout."
But Bloom knew that he had something special in Chiu that few players could bring to the table from the tryouts.
"We saw this submarine pitcher that we really thought fit a role and could help us out this year," Bloom said.
Chiu made the roster, and now is one of Point’s relievers.
"We use him in very specialized situations where we feel like he is a good complement to who we had in previously," Bloom said.
Once on the team, it would be expected that Chiu would have some troubles getting used to the way the game is played in the United States, but Bloom says that wasn’t the case.
"It really has been a seamless