Former Branson Pirate and College of the Ozarks Bobcat baseball player Kyle Rapinchuk was recognized as a recipient of the 2017 Diamond 9 Award by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame at a baseball luncheon held in Springfield on May 25.
Each year the Diamond 9 award is presented to nine former high school, college, or professional athletes who were known as standouts on the baseball or softball field.
“I am excited and grateful to be receiving the Diamond 9 award,” stated Rapinchuk. “Baseball was a huge part of my life for so many years, and to be recognized for that hard work is a great honor. I am thankful for all of my coaches throughout the years who helped me improve so much as a player and the teammates I had at Branson and CofO who pushed me to be a better player and leader. Most importantly, I am thankful for loving and supporting family, an amazing wife, and a faithful God who have not only played a part in making me a better baseball player, but have helped shape me into the man I am today.”
In high school, Rapinchuk was a catcher for Branson High School, receiving All-State honors in 2001, as well as being named to the All-Central Ozark Conference and All-District teams.
Rapinchuk continued his baseball career in 2001-2005 as a first and third baseman at College of the Ozarks, where he received All-American honorable mention honors as a freshman and senior. He was also named to the All-Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference team four consecutive years. With a career .399 batting average, his No. 19 jersey was retired in 2006, and he was inducted into the College of the Ozarks Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I am very pleased to see Kyle receive this recognition as a member of the 2017 Diamond 9,” commented Dr. Patrick McGaha, Rapinchuk’s college coach and currently 12-year head coach at Harding University. “It was an honor and privilege to coach Kyle. He was a model student-athlete, always doing the right thing on the field and off. After 16 years of coaching college baseball, he is still the best pure hitter I have ever coached. I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with him every day for four years—he made everyone around him better, including me.”
Rapinchuk’s name can be found in multiple places in the Bobcats’ record book. He currently holds the single-season record for hits (79), the second and fourth-best single-season batting averages (.443, .422), and is tied for second-most single-season RBI’s (62) and single-season doubles (17).
During his time at College of the Ozarks, Rapinchuk also excelled in the classroom. He was named as an NAIA Scholar Athlete during his junior and senior years. He graduated summa cum laude in 2005 and went on to pursue his masters of divinity and a Ph.D . Rapinchuk currently teaches high school students at School of the Ozarks, a laboratory school operated by College of the Ozarks, which offers a classical Christian education to K-12 students.
Pictured: Rapinchuk with former Branson HS coaches Steve Lael (right) and Don Garner (left)