Chartiers Valley grad a presence at the plate for Waynesburg
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Entering their first collegiate sports season, some athletes might need time to adjust to new surroundings.
Chartiers Valley grad Jonathon Kletzli went in swinging.
Kletzli led the Waynesburg baseball team at the plate in his rookie season with a .383 batting average with 54 hits, 12 doubles and two home runs. He scored 19 runs and had 37 RBIs – another team best.
“I have always been a good hitter and have pretty much been in the top three or four for every team I have played on,” Kletzli said. “Coming into the year I thought I might do well but I did not expect to have the highest batting average. We have some pretty good hitters on our team and thought that one of the upperclassmen to be on top. I would have to give my success to all of the people that have given me training over the years. I have also been going to a hitting coach for about 10 years now who has really helped me a lot.
Kletzli – who plays first base when he is not in the game as a designated hitter – isn't the only Chartiers Valley alum on the roster as Tyler Prevost and Brian Jennings are sophomores with the team. During his first season with Waynesburg, Kletzli said the biggest adjustment was getting used to the better pitching.
“I feel that my approach at the plate has improved and also my fielding,” Kletzli said. “I do think that the pitching at this level is a lot better than the pitching at the high school level. College pitchers throw more strikes and make less mistakes than high school pitchers.”
While a WPIAL baseball player may play 20-something games in the spring, collegiate players play much more. The Yellow Jackets played 43 this season but Kletzli said the increase wasn't too noticeable.
“I don't think that the schedule really affected me since I never actually stopped playing after high school ball was over,” Kletzli said. “After the last game I would pretty much start my summer season a couple days later. Balancing the sports schedule with the course load can be difficult depending on how many credits you take during a semester.
“As long as you don't take an excessive load of credits during baseball season then balancing between the two should not be that hard. It does take discipline and a few late nights to make certain that you get all your assignments completed when missing class to go to a game.”
Waynesburg is a member of the Presidents Athletic Conference at the NCAA Divison III level.
“The competition at this level is pretty good,” Kletzli said. “Although one or two teams are a little stronger than the others, most of the teams in our section are fairly equal with each other. Any team could have beaten another at any time this season”
The Yellow Jackets were eliminated from the PAC playoffs last weekend. On Friday, Waynesburg fell to Washington & Jefferson, 14-4. On Saturday the Yellow Jackets defeated Bethany, 5-4, to win their first PAC playoff game since 2004. But in its second game Saturday, Waynesburg fell to Washington & Jefferson, 16-9.
While Waynesburg waits to see if it will be selected for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Championship tournament, it is hard not to think about the team's future. With 17 freshmen and nine sophomores on the roster, increasing the win total from 18 and making a deeper run in the PAC playoffs seems to be a realistic possibility.
“I believe that the future is bright for this team,” Kletzli said. “We have a lot of underclassmen that are really good players and will only get better. Being young, we will be together for a few years which will give us a stronger connection with each other. This should give us an advantage over some of the other teams that will be losing a lot of their seasoned players.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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