Kody Dobyns loves to challenge himself.
Whether it’s playing cornhole in a national competition or taking the mound for the Madison County High School baseball team, Dobyns thrives in the spotlight.
This season has been one to remember for the senior right-hander. He set the school record for strikeouts in a single game two weeks ago, then in his next outing, he tossed a no-hitter.
“This season is off to a great start,” Dobyns said. “We are playing well as a team right now. Having good teammates and good coaches that want to win, but also make the game fun at the same time makes baseball such a great game in my eyes.”
Dobyns’ baseball journey began at an early age.
“My dad was the one to get me involved in baseball,” Dobyns said. “I first started playing baseball when I was seven years old. I also played basketball growing up. It was a little different experience at first, because we hit off of pitching machines.”
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That initial exposure to the national pastime has grown into a passion for the sport that has continued to grow.
“Baseball is such a mental game that the biggest thing is to have confidence in yourself,” Dobyns said. “Whenever I step in the box or on the mound, I just have that dog mentality and just believe in myself and have confidence in myself.”
Dobyns’ passion for the game and drive to succeed come from within.
“One thing that has probably made me steadily improve every day is I probably put three to four hours of work in with baseball, whether it’s on the field or in the weightroom,” he said. “One thing that has made me successful is making a plan and sticking to it.”
Madison County Coach David Londrey agrees and has seen Dobyns’ development first-hand.
“I could personally brag about Kody, not only as a ball player, but also as a young man for days and days,” Londrey said. “This is my third year having him on my varsity team, and each and every year he has been a player that wants to work each day to get better. He is never content with where he is right now, but thrives on bettering himself.”
Londrey credits former teammate and current Eastern Mennonite University pitcher Trey Dean for preparing Dobyns for this moment. Deane was named Bull Run District Player of the Year last season and Dobyns got to watch and see how he prepared for every game.
“I honestly think that one of the best things that helped Kody was being my No. 2 pitcher last season,” Londrey said. “Kody was able to just be himself and really work on his craft as he was able to see first-hand what it takes to make it to the next level.”
The work has been evident this season.
As a pitcher, Dobyns entered the week with a 6-0 record with an ERA of 0.59. He has struck out 79 batters in 39 innings of work, including a school-record 17 strikeouts in a game last month at Luray.
Dobyns followed that up last week with another milestone when he tossed his first career no-hitter in a victory over Central (Woodstock).
“Early in the game I thought I was spotting my fastball really well but the umpire was not giving me any calls, so I went with my next best pitch, my slider,” Dobyns said. “I was able to spot it really well and get a lot of swings and misses. I didn’t know I had a no-hitter until the fourth inning. I was sitting on the bench and all of sudden it just came to me and I asked myself if I was throwing a no-hitter. Later that inning one of my teammates asked me if I was throwing a no-hitter and I didn’t want to jinx myself but I told him I think I am.”
Dobyns patterns his bulldog mentality on the hill after a future Hall of Famer.
“One of the athletes that I’ve looked up to throughout my career was Max Scherzer,” Dobyns said. “Just the way he played the game and doesn’t let anything get in his way has been a big influence on my game.”
At the plate, he’s been just as dominant. Dobyns ranks among the team leaders with a .425 batting average with 22 RBI and 12 runs scored.
Prior to the season, Dobyns set some pretty lofty goals for himself, including throwing a no-hitter and also earning Bull Run District Player of the Year. He’s well on his way to accomplishing both achievements.
Londrey couldn’t be prouder of what his senior has accomplished this year.
“Kody is a natural leader, and whether he wants it or not, his teammates follow his every word,” he said. “That being said, he’s the coach’s dream to have on the team because of his work ethic and his own personal drive to get better each and every day. He helps lead the rest of the team into having that mindset. That is one of the biggest reasons why I have no doubt that our team is fighting for first place in our district.”
But as talented of a player Dobyns is on the field, his good qualities extend well beyond the white lines.
“When you talk about Kody as a young man outside of baseball, he is one of the nicest young men that you will come across,” Londrey said. “He’s incredible with the young kids and has a gift that makes each and every one of them that he comes across feel as though they are the most special person around.”
Outside of baseball, Dobyns still loves to compete and has developed a passion for playing cornhole.
“About two years ago I played cornhole professionally with my good friend Isaac Hurt,” Dobyns said. “We played in the doubles division together. I ended up winning the blind draw world championship in the American Cornhole Organization.”
On the field, Dobyns’ baseball career will extend past high school. Next season, he will have an opportunity to continue playing the sport he loves at Shenandoah University.
“It’s very exciting for me,” he said. “Not everyone gets the chance to play sports collegiately. I am thankful enough that Shenandoah believes in my talent and has given me the opportunity to play for them.”
Londrey is excited to see what the future holds for Dobyns at the next level.
“Kody is something to watch and I can’t wait to see how much more he’ll grow as a pitcher as he continues his career at Shenandoah,” Londrey said.
Dobyns’ ultimate goal is to go as far as he can with baseball and hopefully earn an opportunity to play professionally. But for now, the Madison County senior is just enjoying the ride.
“None of this wouldn’t be possible without God and my family,” he said. “I’m thankful enough to have always had good coaches and teammates that have always pushed me.”