Arizona baseball's 'jetpack' has wonderful locks
When the wind blows at Arizona baseball’s Hi Corbett Field, one can look to the outfield and see Wildcats center fielder Scott Kingery’s long, curly brown locks swaying like the palm trees beyond the fence.
But don’t blink — you might miss it.
“It was actually [second baseman] Trent Gilbert who gave me the nickname ‘Jetpax’ during a game against ASU last year,” Kingery said.
When people think of a jetpack, they may picture a jet-powered backpack used in science fiction, but that’s not what it means to the Arizona baseball team.
Arizona sophomore outfielder Scott Kingery hits a pitch during Arizona's 8-0 loss against UCLA on April 11. Kingery isn't expected to miss many more games with his injured foot.
While rounding the bases in a game against the Sun Devils last season, Gilbert noticed the then-freshman take his speed to another level with his hair trailing not too far behind.
“That’s when [Gilbert] said, ‘Looks like you had to turn on your jetpacks out there,’ so it kind of just stuck since then,” Kingery said.
Now a sophomore, Kingery, who wasn’t heavily recruited out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, has worked his way up to be one of the best hitters and fastest base runners in the Pac-12 Conference.
Kingery currently leads the Pac-12 in stolen bases and is tied for second in triples. He is also in the top five for many other offensive categories, such as his .379 batting average, which is third in the conference.
As for his nickname, he proudly owns it and even changed his Twitter handle to “@ScottyJetpax25.”
But there’s more than speed to Kingery’s game.
There’s also his much-appreciated hair, which his team has asked him to keep growing until the season is over.
“It’s a good look for him. He pulls it off,” Gilbert said. “He’s got a little bit of flow.”
Besides growing out his hair, Kingery aspires to travel the world and would like to jetpack off to Europe someday.
“Backpacking anywhere in Europe for like a month would be incredible,” Kingery said.
Although traveling and having perfect hair are aspirations for Kingery, baseball is the priority for now.
Kingery’s work to become one of the conference’s best offensive threats began at the start of the season when he fixed his batting stance.
“Once I got more comfortable with the stance, everything fell into place, and it feels really good right now,” Kingery said. “Being able to take the starting position in center has made it all happen.”
Gilbert described Kingery as an explosive player on the field, and said Kingery knows how to play the game and get the job done.
However, Kingery has been limited and even missed playing time since injuring his foot on April 13 while playing against UCLA.
He stepped on the field for the first time since the injury again on Sunday as a designated hitter when Arizona lost at USC.
On Tuesday, head coach Andy Lopez said Kingery’s MRI results indicated that there is no structural damage. Both Kingery and Lopez said they are considering the injury day by day.
This upcoming weekend, Arizona will face ASU, and Lopez said he is staying positive about his jetpack’s situation.
“We’re hoping that he’ll play,” Lopez said. “There’s only two ways to live life: pessimistically or optimistically. I’m optimistic that Kingery will be in the lineup for us.”
—Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela @RoseAlyVal