Weszka happy to be pitching in

Team player: Despite some senior season setbacks, Glenelg baseball standout Jason Weszka remains a leader who is ready to do "whatever helps the team."

April 02, 2000|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

A lesser person might allow a frustration-plagued senior year to discourage him. Not Glenelg three-sport standout Jason Weszka.

First, his soccer team, state champs his sophomore season, lost a heartbreaking sudden-death shootout in the region final to eventual state champion Oakland Mills.

Then his basketball team lost its point guard to a family relocation and its center to academic ineligibility. Instead of contending for a county title, it ended up with a 2-21 record.

Now his two-time defending Class 1A state champion baseball team faces uncertainty because its shortstop and top returning pitcher is ineligible due to violating the school system's drug and alcohol policy.

Perhaps because he's already experienced the thrills of playing on three state championship teams, Weszka remains positive and continues to plow ahead, doing whatever he can to improve his team.

The two-time second-team All-County catcher has moved to shortstop and is pitching, trying to fill two vacuums.

"I love catching, but I can play middle infield," Weszka said. "Whatever helps the team."

He played second base and caught for the Carroll County Rangers, winners of the Dizzy Dean World Series last summer. He hasn't pitched since his freshman season on junior varsity, however.

So far, he's making the necessary adjustments.

"The throw from shortstop is longer and you have to get rid of the ball quicker than at second base," Weszka said.

He has a better-than-average arm, having thrown out 14 runners attempting to steal last season.

"Jason gets in front of the ball and goes in the hole well," coach Tom Thrasher said of Weszka's play at shortstop. "He's adjusted well."

Weszka has plenty of speed to cover the position. He stole 22 bases last season.

Another adjustment is his slot in the batting order. He's batting leadoff instead of third, where he hit .527 with 32 RBIs a year ago.

"He has a good eye and can hit deep in the count," said Thrasher, explaining why Weszka was moved to leadoff. "He'll also get more at-bats there."

Weszka walked 14 times last season and was hit by pitch 15 times.

"Last season I stood close to the plate and they tried to pitch up under my hands," Weszka said. "I like to swing at the outside pitch and go to right field. This year, I'm standing back more."

Still, he's been hit twice in the first three games.

A recent Sports Illustrated article defined the term "glue guy" as "a player who can sense what his team needs most and supply it without muss or fuss."

Weszka definitely qualifies as a glue guy under that definition, especially this baseball season. But he also was that way this year in basketball, according to coach Jeremy Snyder.

"Jason didn't play basketball his junior year because he wanted to focus on baseball, which will be his college sport," Snyder said. "But our team really needed him this season, so he played and did whatever you asked. He was our captain and did the little things.

"Our practice intensity went up because of him," Snyder continued.

"He played every practice and game as though it was his last and other kids learned that from him. He's a rare athlete."

At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, Weszka played shooting guard and was a defensive specialist, finishing second on the team in steals.

"He led us to our first playoff win in five years," Snyder said.

Weszka has a 3.5 grade-point average.

He would like to play Division I baseball, and is looking at Mount St. Mary's, UMBC and Tampa.

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