Despite battling a series of injuries, Jake Llaneza excelled in two sports at Westerville South, earning all-league and all-district honors in baseball and football.
But the senior didn't get a chance to finish his prep baseball career with spring sports getting canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Wildcats had high hopes this spring with several players returning after they won eight of their last 13 games a year ago to finish 12-12.
"We had three weeks of mandatory (preseason) practice, but before that (there) was extra work put in," Llaneza said. "It's a bummer. I thought this team was going to be really good this year. We had a lot of starters returning (and) would have competed for (an) OCC (title). ... It would have been tough to have a virus pandemic like that and send everybody back to school."
Llaneza led the Wildcats with a .448 batting average last season while playing third base and left field. He drove in 19 runs and scored 20 and was named first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division and honorable mention all-district in Division I.
He was a key pitcher for South in his first two seasons before a labrum injury suffered during the preseason in football limited his time on the mound as a junior. His pitches were hitting speeds of 80 to 85 mph before the injury and were reaching 88 mph during the preseason this spring.
"He has a strong arm and he has above average speed," baseball coach Tim Bates said. "He has all the tools."
Llaneza has committed to play baseball at NAIA Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, where he will pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering.
"He was our best player last season and without all the injuries instead of playing two-thirds of the season, if he would (have been able) to play the entire season, I think more college coaches around Ohio would know his name," Bates said. "He's one of those bubble kids. If Jake wants to play college baseball, he can play college baseball."
Llaneza also excelled in football at outside linebacker, earning first-team all-league and second-team all-district honors in Division II last season. He finished with 68 tackles and three sacks.
The shoulder injury ended his time at quarterback as a junior.
"I was working to be quarterback as well, but that was out of the (question) because I couldn't even throw a football, so I moved to linebacker where the team most needed me," said Llaneza, who played through the injury. "I ended up starting that season and doing pretty well for not playing linebacker since little league."
Llaneza missed his sophomore season in football after suffering a back injury, which he attributes to wear and tear. He returned to play baseball in the spring.
"He's a kid that bought into what we're trying to do and the things we're trying to highlight," football coach Matthew Christ said. "When I got there, he was going into his sophomore year. He got hurt and didn't play all year, but was at every practice (and was) engaged. He came back for his junior season and he just wanted to play. He found a home on defense. He became our defensive captain as a senior."
Llaneza also was a team captain in baseball.