Olentangy Valley News

Baseball

Time away drives Patriots' Wechselberger

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Marcus Wechselberger has been making up for lost time.

Instead of playing six games per week on youth and travel teams, the senior on the Olentangy Liberty High School baseball team spent part of his childhood living in Switzerland with his family, playing a "little more than a dozen games a year."

The Patriots outfielder lived in Switzerland in his fourth- through eighth-grade years after his father, Eric Wechselberger, had his position with METTLER TOLEDO transferred there from Spartanburg, S.C.

"Everything was recreational there with a little club (baseball) team," Wechselberger said. "I was on a 15-U team and we would have a doubleheader on weekends.

"But it did teach me how much I love to play the game. It was really drill-oriented and I only had one coach while I was in Switzerland. I became very passionate about it, but I knew I had some catching up to do when I got back."

In 18 games this spring, Wechselberger, whom teammates and coaches refer to as "Swiss," was batting .431 (25-for-58) with two doubles, four triples, 24 runs and 11 RBI.

"Swiss had a big learning curve when he came back, but he has embraced all of the things that he didn't know and has worked to get better," said coach Ty Brenning, whose team was 14-4 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Westland on April 29. "He worked to turn all of the negative things into positives. He was our most improved player last year and is probably our most improved this year as well."

Wechselberger, who began playing on varsity as a sophomore, has a 4.14 GPA and has signed to play at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a top-rated undergraduate engineering school in Terre Haute, Ind.

Brenning said Wechselberger's studious nature in the classroom benefits him on the diamond.

"Swiss isn't the fastest outfielder, but he gets a good first step by knowing what pitch is being thrown where and goes from there," Brenning said. "And he's smart at the plate. He averages 4.5 pitches per at-bat, being patient and working into good hitting counts, and has a (.560) on-base percentage (through 18 games).

"He also knows when he should steal bases. He knows what are good running counts ... (and) when the pitcher might be going off-speed. He's just a good student of the game."

Wechselberger stole four bases in a 3-0 league win over Marysville on April 21 and had nine stolen bases through 18 games. He said stealing bases basically comes down to observation.

"Having a little speed helps, but it's all about reading the pitcher," he said. "It's all about watching the pitcher and his routine, watching and getting a good jump from that.

"At the plate, I like to get 'my' pitch. I try to see the ball to get my pitch in a general area. Once I get two strikes, I expand my zone."

Brenning said Wechselberger is driven to be a better player and that trait has helped him become a team leader.

"Swiss has the best combination of work ethic and attention to detail of any kid I have coached," Brenning said. "Now he has worked his way to becoming a leader. He wants to be the best that he can be both on and off of the diamond."

That includes helping to lead Liberty on a postseason run. As a senior, Wechselberger sees his high school baseball career drawing to a close. The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, May 4.

"Coach Brenning always said moments go by in the blink of an eye and you have to make the most of them," Wechselberger said. "In four weeks, I will graduate and it will all be over, which is unbelievable to me. We want to keep this going."

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