It would be an understatement to say K.C. Weber had limited catching experience the first time he crouched behind the plate for a meaningful game as a sophomore with the Watkins Memorial High School baseball team.

It would be an understatement to say K.C. Weber had limited catching experience the first time he crouched behind the plate for a meaningful game as a sophomore with the Watkins Memorial High School baseball team.

A memory involving equal parts humor and danger hasn't faded much over the past 27 months, either. It still brings a chuckle from coach Don Schone, a 1992 graduate and also a catcher during his playing days. The first pitch Weber took that late-March afternoon probably left quite an impression on umpire Tim Shoemaker, too.

"I'd been a shortstop my whole life," Weber, a 2008 graduate, said last week while recalling the Warriors' 2006 opener. "I didn't know what I was doing."

Taking the mound for what became a 4-2 loss to Newark was none other than pitching ace Eric Arnett, then a hard-throwing 6-foot-4 senior who already had signed to continue his career at Indiana.

"The first pitch, well, Eric cranks up a 92 mph fastball. It went right over K.C.'s glove and just drills the umpire, I think right above the left bicep," said Weber's father, Chris, an assistant with the Warriors who is coaching his son this summer with Pickerington American Legion Post 283. "The umpire comes over to me after the inning and says, 'Chris, you know he never even moved."

Weber quickly advanced from novice to fledgling star, however. On May 31 he received a scholarship offer from Division I Wright State, which captured the Horizon League regular-season championship last spring and is only two years removed from an NCAA tournament appearance.

"They finally offered the day before K.C.'s graduation, so it was quite a present," his father said. "To wait and wait like he did, it was definitely an exercise in mental toughness.

"But they'd been following him around for some time. There were some other schools interested in him, too, Ohio Dominican here locally and several schools in the (Mid-American Conference). He really liked a couple of them in South Carolina until he figured out the geography involved. Wright State just seemed like a perfect fit all the way around."

The Raiders, who didn't sign any other catchers in this recruiting class, finished 30-23 overall in 2008, posting a third consecutive 30-win season under coach Rob Cooper. Three of his players were taken in Major League Baseball's amateur draft, which was held June 4-5, with juniors Jeremy Hamilton (Philadelphia Phillies) and Justin Parker (Arizona Diamondbacks) hearing their names called on the first day.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play college baseball; pro ball, too," said Weber, who is trying to pack on another 10 pounds or so on his 6-foot, 190-pound frame. "I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen."

Given enough time, Weber displayed natural defensive skills after moving behind the plate and then did all he could to impress scouts offensively as a senior with the Warriors, who went 8-2 to share the OCC-Capital Division title with New Albany despite finishing 13-15 overall.

"He's one of the best defensive catchers in the area, no question," Schone said. "In college, just like it was for him in high school, the biggest adjustment he might have to make is with his hitting. He really grew as a hitter here as a senior."

Weber batted .379 hitting third in the order with one home run, 10 doubles, 15 RBI and 23 runs scored. He made first-team all-league and first-team all-district, garnering the most votes (29 out of 40) among all Division I catchers in central Ohio . As one of 80 graduates statewide selected to play in the Mizuno All-Ohio All-Star Series earlier this month, Weber struck up a friendship with New Albany shortstop Tristan Moore, who also is headed to Wright State.

"I'm hoping I can step in and be a backup right away," Weber said referring to a depth chart that includes returning junior starter Gerald Ogrinc and another catcher, junior Tony Scott, who might be changing positions. "I'm just asking for a chance to show what I can do, that's all."

Weber, also a two-year starting quarterback for the football team, has shown he's a quick study. As one of the final pieces to the puzzle in 2006 after seeing some varsity time in the outfield as a freshman, he helped the Warriors reach the Division II state final, finishing 22-10 after winning the OCC-Capital outright. The team advanced to a regional final his junior season and finished 16-8 before making the move up to Division I a year later.

The pitching staff's ace since Arnett's departure was hard-throwing left-hander Justin Warrington, another professional prospect who has signed to play at Ball State next year.

"The college scouts really liked the way he handled Eric and Justin, how he's already handled Division I pitching," Weber's father said. "I think that really gave him a leg up in the process."

Weber played this past season with a tender left ankle after having surgery to repair a football injury, one he played through during the second half of last fall's schedule. He was selected to play in next month's Licking County-Muskingum Valley All-Star Football Game but likely will not participate at Wright State 's request.

"Giving up football, it's a little easier knowing I'm going Division I (in baseball)," said Weber, who may study education and sports administration at Wright State . "I haven't played since the surgery, but if I would have ended up going to a smaller school I'm sure I would have tried to play both."

Such an attitude clearly paid benefits when the Warriors needed a catcher in 2006. Brad Weisenstein had graduated the year before and Jeremy Bird transferred to Newark , which won a district championship that spring.

"We didn't have a prospect, a suspect or anything," Weber's father said. "He worked real hard at it, and (Schone) was a tremendous help in his development. The thing is they didn't even start working together until some time in February before K.C.'s sophomore year."

After his graduation, Schone went on to play at Bowling Green and was a catcher there from 1993-97.

"K.C. has definitely worked his way into this position. He was athletic and talented enough to absorb what little I could give him under the circumstances," Schone said. "He took to it right away although it was a little scary for me to put him there. He even started showing off his bruises. He enjoyed even the bad parts of catching."

Still, nothing Schone could say or do could prepare Weber for that first pitch he took from Arnett.

"I had caught him in the gym," Weber said. "But that first time out in a real game, it was like, wow."

MORE FROM PICKERINGTON -- Post 283, which two years ago placed third at the state Legion tournament, has benefited from several other local products during its fast start, which included a 17-4 record after last Wednesday's game with the Licking County A's was canceled because of bad weather.

They include Watkins Memorial seniors Chet Powell (P) and Sean Fanin (OF) and junior Taylor Day (P). Another is Licking Valley graduate Rob Howell, a leader in the dugout and pitcher and first baseman who will be a sophomore next year at Ohio Dominican.

The group of six is rounded out by Newark Catholic's Matt Lott, another catcher who will play football and baseball next year at Lake Erie College .

Lott, who was named ThisWeek's Player of the Year this past spring, and Weber have been close friends for years. Their platoon behind the plate has enabled both to show their skills elsewhere, Lott at third base and Weber in left field.

"Matt caught almost every game with the Athletics last summer and K.C. caught almost every game for us," Weber's father said. "Now we're alternating them and I think that's really helped them both. It's a great situation."