PBL Profile: Kyle Muzechka
Posted March 15, 2020
The Holden Blue Jays ace has been one of the most dominant pitchers in recent PBL history. Since bursting onto the scene with the Holden Blue Jays in 2011, Kyle Muzechka has put his name into the conversation as the best pitcher of the last decade and one of the best that the PBL has seen.
Muzechka, or Muzz as he is known, has been described as a tremendous teammate and competitor with one of the nastiest change ups that has graced senior men’s baseball in the area. The change up coming from the left side would dive down and away from right handers and mixed in with precision control of a fastball, would decimate lineups time and time again. All the while Muzechka has added another solid bat to the Blue Jays line up and has been an anchor for the team as they have captured two PBL Pennants and five trips to the PBL Championship Series. Season after season the Blue Jays are one of the best pitching and defensive teams in the PBL, suffocating offences to league lows in runs allowed. Having the best pitcher in the league for the last decade has helped with the team’s success immensely.
Muzechka pitching for the Williams Woods Owls
Always someone to talk baseball with on or off the field, Muzechka has worked hard at the game and been rewarded with stints in Rocky Mountain House, Sherwood Park, Vauxhall, Lethbridge and Fulton, Missouri before coming back home to Vegreville.
Here is Kyle’s interview:
What was your baseball background prior to playing in the PBL?
Grew up playing minor baseball in Vegreville till Midget. First year of Midget played in Rocky Mountain House for Harold Northcott in the Norwest AAA league. My final two years of midget I played for Sherwood Park Athletics in the Norwest AAA league. Also attended Vauxhall baseball academy in my grade 12 year of high school in Vauxhall, Alberta.
What was your time like at the Vauxhall Baseball Academy and the Prairie Baseball Academy like?
VAB and PBA are both one of the best baseball programs in Canada. I was very nervous and excited at the same time to move away from home to have the opportunity to attend VAB. Moving away and attending this academy helped prepare me and mentally and physically for what it took move onto the next level, which for me was college/ university. The coaches, facilities, equipment, and support were all top notch at Vauxhall and every student-athlete that was there was there for the same reason as myself. Competition wise, Vauxhall was also a new experience for me, we had players from all over the country and some who even participated with Team Canada. We played teams from throughout Alberta, BC, Montana, Washington, and Nevada. The level of competition surprised me at the start but as the year/ season progressed I adjusted to it mentally and physically. PBA was very similar to Vauxhall and everything about PBA was very positive. The coaches there pushed you to work hard which benefited my down the road. PBA was always one of the top collegiate programs in Canada and always competed for a CCBC championship. PBA also tried to move you onto another post secondary school. Attending both, VAB and PBA were extremely beneficial to my baseball career and wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Muzechka on the hill for the Vauxhall Baseball Academy
What was your time like at the William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri?
William Woods was a blast. It was a very cool experience playing down in the states. I was pretty nervous moving down there because I kinda went down there blind. Never went for a visit beforehand and basically loaded up my suitcase and went down there. Didn’t know what my living arrangements were like and what any of my teammates were like. Met lots of great teammates down there and the coaches were exceptional. To this day im still very close with about 5-6 guys from William Woods and two of them are even apart of my wedding party. We were a pretty good school in our conference and finished second place both my junior and senior year. Just the whole experience of being a Canadian kid playing college ball in the states was a dream come true. Wouldn’t of it for the world.
Did you have any baseball coaches over the years that had a really big impact on you as a baseball player?
I’ve had numerous coaches that impacted my baseball career. My coaches in Vegreville growing up taught us to have fun and enjoy the game. I feel like that helped me and made me continue on with baseball and try to reach the next level. My next coach that had a nimpact on me was Harold Northcott. He coached me with team Alberta as well when I played in Rocky Mountain House for one year of midget. Another bonus was that Harold was also a left handed pitcher like myself. He coached Team Canada numerous times and was very knowledgeable about the game. Harold taught me many aspects of pitching including proper mechanics, training, and the mental side of pitching. My second coach who impacted me the most was Les McTavish, who was the head coach at Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. He also specialized in pitching and taught me what it took to get to the next level of baseball. I still incorporate their coaching into my game when im pitching on the mental and physical side.
When did you start playing the Powerline Baseball League and with the Holden Blue Jays?
Started playing in the PBL with the Holden Blue Jays in 2011 and been playing with them ever since. Most of us all grew up together playing baseball together in Vegreville and when Steve Hrabec decided to try and start up the team again we were all excited for the opportunity to play ball together again.
Team Alberta (Muzechka #15)
Do you remember your first game in the Powerline Baseball League?
First game with the PBL came at the start of the 2011 season against the Ryley Rebels in Holden. I didn’t play the first season with the Jays but came on the roster the next season. I believe we won the game, Logan Skori started for us and I came in and closed it out on the mound for the Jays.
What was that first year of Powerline Baseball League baseball like for you?
The first year of the PBL was a lot of fun because it was great playing with my group of friends again. Brought back a lot of great memories playing for the Vegreville Bears in minor ball. The PBL was a good way for me to take a break from the college seasons and just focus on having some fun with the Jays.
How has the Powerline Baseball League change during your years in the league?
The league hasn’t changed too much since the Holden Jays joined the league. We did see the addition of the Wild Card game, which I think is a great add to the league and the competitiveness of the league. I know Holden has been in that game twice and luckily we’ve came out on top both times. Couple teams have entered the league and also dropped out the league since we started. I think the addition of Rosalind was great for the league and just to add another competitive team made the league just that much better.
Muzechka at the Holden Recreation Grounds
Was there a pitcher in the Powerline Baseball League that you perhaps dreaded facing or just had your number for some reason?
Well I’ve never been an all star hitter by any means but I would have to say anyone throwing with a little bit of speed would have my number. I go up to the plate to try and get any sort of contact and hope it finds a hole through the infield.
As a pitcher, is there a particular hitter in the league that you have a tough time getting out?
I would have to say the toughest hitter in the league that I always had issues with was Dylan Solberg. He was always a tough out and even when I did manage to get him out it was usually a hard hit ball somewhere but it managed to be hit right at someone. I felt like Dylan was able to hit anyone’s fastball well and he easily adjusted to my off speed pitches. He’s hit a couple homeruns off me in some big games and even though we are both super competitive during the game, we are still really good friends and have ton of respect for each other.
William Woods University Owls
You have had some tremendous success as a pitcher in the PBL, how have you had to adapt to certain hitters or teams over the years to continue having that success?
When I first entered the league I tried to be more of a thrower than a pitcher. Tried to throw my fastball more often and think that I could throw it by guys. I never threw a curveball when I first started and just relied on a fastball-change up combo. Ive only recently began throwing curveballs just to show different movement coming into the hitter. I have changed a couple things mechanically since I began which I think has helped me maintain my arm and helped me avoiding getting any sort of arm soreness. Some teams in the league are more fastball hitters and others are more off speed hitters. I try to change my approach game by game and like to rely on my defense behind me to help. Luckily the Jays are usually pretty steady on D and that helps any of our pitchers on the mound at any given time.
Your change-up has become one of the best pitches that the PBL has ever seen. Who got you throwing that change-up and how did you master that pitch over the years?
Actually the person who taught me that change up was Pete Rodgers. When I was younger he helped coach a couple winter clinics in Camrose and I was fortunate enough to learn that pitch at a young and just tried to master it as my career went on. I’ve always tried to throw that pitch with confidence and in any count against a hitter. Always tried to throw it with same arm action as my fastball and always thinking to myself to make the hitter try and make weak contact off that pitch instead of trying to get swings and misses.
You've had the opportunity to play in the Powerline Baseball League Playoffs, how would you describe the difference between the regular season and those best of three series in the playoffs?
The compete level just increases when playoff starts. Less room for error and one little mistake can change a game or even the whole series. Playoffs are definitely more exciting and momentum plays a huge factor in how they shape out. Any team can really beat any team in the playoffs and that’s what makes it intriguing at the end of the year. I really like how the league incorporated the wild card game and just makes that one game playoff very memorable.
Muzechka set numerous pitching records for the Axemen between 2011-2017 in the North Central Alberta Baseball League. Here he is on the mound at Telus Field in Edmonton vs the Edmonton Blackhawks.
Is there a particular rivalry that you have been involved in that is memorable?
Holden has always had some good games with Ryley when they were in the league. For the most part they were pretty close and exciting games. Ryley always had great hitters and some solid pitching. It was just a fun game when we played each other. We had some good playoff series with them and they usually would come down to the wire.
What was your favourite Powerline Baseball League field to play on and what were some endearing features of that field that made it your favourite?
Ive always enjoyed the Holden ball field. I enjoyed their pitching mound the most out of any in the league. We would get tons of fans for playoff games so that was always a bonus.
A solid hitter who has helped the middle of the Blue Jays lineup.
Is there a baseball field or two that you have played on in your career outside of the PBL that was a memorable experience?
Pitching at Washington State University when I was with Vauxhall was one of the nicest baseball fields ive played on. Also a couple minor league stadiums in Washington with PBA was pretty neat.
Did you ever participate in a tournament hosted by a Powerline Baseball League team?
The only tournaments we entered were the Ryley ball tournaments. They were always a ton of fun and had lots of good memories. The beer gardens on Saturday night were a blast and we would be more competitive in beating other teams in a game of flip cup than actually on the field.
What do you look forward to most when baseball season starts every year?
Getting back out on the field and playing with my friends. Enjoying a couple beers after the games and just competing for a championship.
What is in store for you in the future with regards to baseball?
Going to keep playing ball for as long as I can. Hopefully one of these years we can bring a championship for the Jays. I eventually would like to get more involved in coaching and helping minor ball. But for now just enjoy playing with the Jays and take it year by year.
Sometimes when you are out at home all you can do is look at the third base coach. Blue Jays vs Rosalind Athletics in the 2017 PBL Championship.
A big thank you to Kyle for taking the time to answer some questions and tell us about his baseball background and passion for the game. It is always fun to get to share a baseball field with or against Muzz, as he is always willing to talk baseball and have a good time on the field. Fans will be able to check out Kyle this season with the Holden Blue Jays wearing the familiar #44 will be on the mound and moonlighting in right field and in the middle of the Jays order. Despite what Muzz says, he is good hitter that rarely has seen a pitch he won’t drive or flare to the opposite side of the field.
Our next PBL Profile will feature on of the great Tofield Lakers from the Tofield/Ryley rivalry years in the 1990s, Neil Anderson.