Double duty at Wilde Lake

Baseball: Wilde Lake No. 1 starter Chris Yetter also commands a formidable presence at the plate.

April 25, 1999|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Although he's a pitcher to be reckoned with, Wilde Lake No. 1 starter Chris Yetter is first and foremost a hitter.

That's obvious from the way he goes with the pitch and uses the entire field when he hits. It's obvious from his discipline at the plate in swinging at selective pitches. And it's obvious from looking at his batting average.

Through Wilde Lake's first 12 games, Yetter's average stood at .600 (21-for-35). That included a team-high 12 walks. Teams recently have been pitching around him.

Last season, despite a horrendous 1-for-19 start, he finished at .525 (31-for-59) with eight doubles and 28 RBIs and was a candidate for Player of the Year.

As a freshman, he batted .360 (18-for-50) and hit .437 (31-for-71) his sophomore season.

"He's one of the purest high school hitters I've seen," said Wilde Lake coach Don Storr, now serving his fourth season as Wildecats mentor. "He's disciplined, intelligent, focused, anticipates well and sees the ball well."

Yetter said hitting is what he does best because, according to him, "I work the hardest on it."

Unlike defense, it is an easier skill to work on indoors when the weather is bad.

Yetter has a batting coach, Kevin Young, at Rounding Third, an indoor hitting facility in Elkridge. "He's helped me with my approach to the game and techniques," Yetter said.

Before this season, Yetter hit only two home runs but has now developed some power as he has matured physically. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound 17-year-old has three home runs, including two in one game against league-leading Centennial -- a game the Wildecats lost, 10-8, with Yetter as the hard-luck pitcher who didn't get enough defensive support.

Yetter's slugging percentage of .914 and on-base percentage of .708 are both outstanding.

He credits the Ripken Acceleration Program, a training facility located off Rt. 108, as well as high school weightlifting for his newfound power. Yetter was an All-County defensive back for Wilde Lake and played on its Class 3A state championship team in 1997.

Because he's played baseball from an early age, his baseball instincts are finely honed. "I don't have to think a lot," he said. "Things flow naturally."

Defensively, Yetter has played every position but catcher, although he's primarily an outfielder.

He has above-average speed, as shown by nine steals in 10 attempts.

And he has an above-average arm, having been clocked at 86 mph.

This is his best season for strikeouts. He has struck out 27 batters in 21 innings through 12 games and walked only seven. He has the best ERA on the team at 3.28 but the worst won-loss record at 1-3. The poor record is partly the result of Yetter's normally pitching against the top teams, and partly because the Wildecats have given up 10 unearned runs while Yetter was pitching.

He has a repertoire that includes a fastball, curveball, slider, change and cut fastball. "I've been mixing speeds this year and throwing them all for strikes," he said.

His best pitching efforts were the loss to Centennial this season and a two-hit shutout he threw against River Hill last season.

The state baseball coaches association selected him to its preseason all-state team.

He played last summer for the 15-16 Columbia Reds, who were state champs with a 37-4 record, and played in the Junior Olympics. He batted about .500, he said.

Yetter is a quiet co-captain who leads by example. "I will give advice to younger players, keeping it positive," he said.

In addition to four varsity baseball letters, he earned three for indoor track and three for football.

"Football was a blast, playing for coach [Doug] DuVall and winning a state title," he said.

The National Honor Society member has a 3.9 GPA and scored 1270 on his SAT. He's considering Catholic University, UMBC, St. Mary's and Salisbury State, planning to study biology or pre-med. He has taken seven science courses at Wilde Lake.

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