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Kiski Area slugger grows beyond 'Big Country'

| Monday, April 29, 2013, 11:50 p.m.
Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area's Troy Glendenning crosses the plate and scores a run against Connellsville on Friday, April 26, 2013, at Kiski Area High School.
Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Kiski Area first baseman Troy Glendenning looks to throw to third during a game against Connellsville on Friday April 26, 2013, at Kiski Area High School.

With a sheepish grin Friday afternoon, Troy Glendenning offered the nickname given to him by his Kiski Area baseball teammates during his sophomore season.

“They pick on me and call me ‘Big Country,' ” he said. “They say I can hit it a country mile.”

Teammates certainly had other options as they pondered what to call Glendenning, now a 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior first baseman. All likely reflected two key attributes: Glendenning's size, and his ability to smash a baseball.

Few batters for Kiski Area — or any other team in the Alle-Kiski Valley — are as potent at the plate as Glendenning. But the senior has set out to convince skeptics that he's more than a one-trick power slugger.

“Hix always told me I move well for a big guy, and I always took advantage of that,” Glendenning said, referring to former Kiski Area coach Daryl Hixenbaugh. “People see that I'm 6-4, 285, and they say I can't move and that I'm slow. I shut them up. … As a big guy, I am quick, and I'm proud of that.”

Through the season's first six games, Glendenning had four doubles, one triple and one home run. He drove in eight runs. His slugging percentage sat above .820, and his average was a shade below .400.

All of those figures seemed appropriate to Glendenning, who as a junior finished with the top batting average (.434), slugging average (.792) and on-base percentage (.523) among Kiski Area's full-season starters.

Where Glendenning grew as a player was on the basepaths. In those same six games, he stole six bases — in his previous two seasons combined, he had seven steals.

“He has learned to perfect the delay steal,” said Kiski Area coach Shawn Schwarz, a former assistant who replaced Hixenbaugh on April 19. “It works in his favor because most people don't think he will steal.”

Schwarz considers Glendenning a rare combination of height and bulk for high school baseball.

“He's naturally strong, but he has very quick hands for as big as he is,” Schwarz said. “Some pitchers don't think he can get his hands around on that inside pitch, but he is surprisingly quick.”

A midseason slump brought down some of Glendenning's superb averages. But the senior is a slugger at heart, one who will tweak his swing technique but won't abandon a bring-it-on approach at the plate.

“I hate standing in the box for more than 30 seconds,” Glendenning said. “Everyone is looking at me for that long. And just standing there, I feel like I'm getting too comfortable in the box. As a hitter, you can't do that. You just have to get your pitch and hit it.”

He will continue his career at Division III Pitt-Bradford, where he'll reconnect with fellow big man Bill Emerick, a 6-foot, 205-pound 2011 Kiski Area graduate.

Despite his athleticism and his aggressive attitude toward batting, Glendenning never gravitated toward more intense sports. Baseball became his favorite sport when he started playing at age 5. In his only attempt to diversify, he tried football as a seventh grader.

“All the yelling in the face, just the screaming and telling me what to do — it just wasn't me,” Glendenning said.

“With baseball, if I'm having girl problems or having school problems, I just come to the diamond. Seven, maybe nine innings just erases it all.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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