Sports

The arm called

Winger’s right arm keeps opposing runners thinking twice before attempting to steal a base or take an extra step on a leadoff. - Photo by Rogerick Anas
Winger’s right arm keeps opposing runners thinking twice before attempting to steal a base or take an extra step on a leadoff.
— image credit: Photo by Rogerick Anas

The Port Angeles baserunner took three steps away from first base then ran hard toward second, hoping to chalk up a steal and get into scoring position.

He never made it.

Olympic catcher Adam Winger called for the pitchout and nailed the runner by a step as he threw a straight shot to secondbaseman Mathew Foss for the third out in the Trojans’ 8-5 loss on March 31.

The lesson learned — don’t run on the Trojans when ‘Wing,’ as his teammates call him, is behind the plate.

“He’s a great defensive catcher,” said Olympic coach Nate Andrews who converted the 18-year-old Winger from a thirdbaseman to catcher in his sophomore year. “He’s got physical capabilities in that he’s quick, balanced, instinctual and a great arm.”

That right arm has been getting plenty of talk around the Narrows League.

“He’s one of, if not the best, defensive catchers in the League. He’s got an awesome arm to second and a great pop down to first base,” said reigning Narrows League MVP Jordan Duncan who has played on the same team as Winger since they both were seventh graders at Fairview Junior High. “And he’s got quick feet. I’ve heard guys say ‘he’s got the quickest feet they’ve ever seen.’ He’s really sound in his mechanics and his fundamentals.”

Tie it all together and Winger can go pop-to-pop (meaning when the ball hits his glove to when it hits the guy on second’s glove) in a quick two seconds.

“Florida’s Pudge Rodriguez is like a 1.75, so if you’re at two seconds you’re good,” Andrews said.

All that comes down to the dedication Winger said he’s put into the game he’s played for the past 14 years.

“I love the game,” said Winger, who played last summer for Olympic College coach Michael Reese’s Cobb team. “It teaches you a lot about yourself. You have to be dedicated. I haven’t stopped playing since the seventh grade, going from school ball to select ball with workouts in the winter.”

While Winger’s abilities behind the plate may be among the best, he has difficulties when he’s at bat.

“He couldn’t hit the weight of his arm (last season),” Andrews said. “He was in a big, bad slump and he couldn’t get out of it since the high school season isn’t that long.”

So Winger dedicated himself to going over to Duncan’s backyard batting cage on a daily basis to find his swing.

“I was in a slump last year at the plate and the only way to get better is to work on it,” Winger said. “Jordan’s a great friend to have besides being a great hitter. I’m not afraid to ask him questions because I’ve gotten to the point where I understand what’s happening.”

That work is starting to pay off as Winger has raised his batting average to .214 and his on-base percentage to .522 as he leads the team with seven walks.

“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t getting much under my hands and just recently I’ve been getting some I can drive,” Winger said. “Hopefully that will change and I’ll get more pitches to choose from.”

The only criticism Andrews had was that the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Winger might be too patient at the plate.

“If he was a little more aggresive, he might have a few more hits,” the coach said. “I’d like him to be choosy but look for the fastball on the 2-0 or 2-1 counts. Most high school kids aren’t taught that and the ones that are have more success. Once he figures that out, he’ll be a better hitter because his swing has already come a long ways.”

Winger, who put his grade point average somewhere around 3.2, said he’d like to play next season at a community college with Duncan if he gets the chance.

“I’m hoping to play farther and I’ll know at the end of the season where I’d like to go,” Winger said.

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