Thunder’s Wherli thrives on pressure - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Thunder’s Wherli thrives on pressure

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Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:00 pm

It takes more than a disappointing at-bat or throwing a bad pitch to rattle Matt Wherli.

The Desert Vista senior has the experience of being on a baseball field for 12 years and is a starting outfielder for the Thunder team this season.

He also has another role.

“I’m an outfielder who pitches,” Wherli said.

And Desert Vista coach Stan Luketich doesn’t hesitate to call Wherli from the outfield to the mound for a relief stint.

“I’m comfortable under pressure,” Wherli said. “I get things done when I’m under pressure and maybe that’s why I’m good on the mound.”

He’s not going to throw too many pitches past a batter, and he knows it.

“I’m a location guy,” he said. “I’m not going to burn anyone with a fastball, but I have three pitches I can mix in there; a curve, a slider and a change-up that’s hard to hit when it’s working.”

Going into a weeklong spring break baseball tournament last week Wherli had played in every Desert Vista game and had a 5.25 earned run average, second best on the team.

Luketich said Wherli is one of his team’s leaders.

That could put pressure on less experienced players.

“As a senior it’s a little more responsibility,” Wherli said. “But other than that it’s just setting an example on and off the field. Being a senior means you have the experience, but you also have to get things done.”

He plays year-round but doesn’t feel like he gets burned out on the game.

“You get a little tired once in a while,” he said, “but if you’re playing well and hitting the ball well there’s no reason to get burned out.”

A bonus of playing year-round is that he sees a lot of pitches during a season.

But hitting can be fickle.

“We’ve always been a good hitting team,” Wherli said. “We all work hard, but it’s baseball and you’re going to have your ups and downs. You just have to keep working hard.”

Last season Wherli had a .448 batting average and played in all 34 games.

This year he’s batting .483, third best on the team and hasn’t committed an error.

He is also a team player and, in keeping with Luketich’s philosophy, that and his composure will keep him in the lineup more than his statistics.

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Jason P. Skoda
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  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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