Baseball: Wiegold has been one of the difference makers for Mundelein
Mundelein's Jordan Wiegold rips a pitch during earlier action this spring. He's hitting .350 with 20 stolen bases. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:05AM
Attention to detail is one of the biggest assets a baseball player can have.
And for catchers, in particular, knowing what pitch to call in a certain situation, being aware of a hitter’s tendencies … such things often wind up being the difference between winning and losing.
Mundelein senior catcher Jordan Wiegold serves as a prime example. When his Mustangs visited Vernon Hills for the North Suburban Conference title game last week, Wiegold was well-aware he’d be playing on an artificial turf infield that had tiny chunks of ground rubber underneath it.
That meant anytime there was a pitch that skipped in front of him near home plate, a routine block could suddenly become a potential adventure. And considering the Mustangs allowed 12 Cougars to reach base that day, Wiegold’s role was suddenly magnified.
“When the ball hits the rubber on the ground, it just grabs the ball and spins it whichever way the ball is spinning,” Wiegold said. “So you really have to focus on getting in front of a low pitch and squaring it up even more than you would on other fields that have dirt behind home plate. If you’re not ready for it, it can really catch you off guard.”
It’s that kind of awareness and attention to detail that’s helped Wiegold’s defensive game grow as the 2012 season has progressed. His arm strength has noticeably improved, too, while offensively he’s enjoyed a breakout season hitting second in Mundelein’s batting order.
Wiegold’s .330 batting average won’t break any records, but his .437 on-base percentage and .570 slugging percentage reflect just how patient and powerful he can be at the plate. He leads the Mustangs with 75 quality at-bats, a statistic based on 10 separate factors charted by assistant coach Jeff Sweno and Mundelein’s staff.
And while speed on the bases is unusual for most catchers, Wiegold also tops the team with 20 stolen bases. He showed off that speed during the NSC title game, when he legged out a pair of triples for the first time ever in the same game. Both were line drives into the right-center field gap.
“I’ve put a lot of work in this year toward improving all aspects of my game,” Wiegold said. “It started last summer. Just going out every day, working on blocking (pitches), framing them, throwing, hitting, base running — doing everything.”
Considering he’s only had a year to sharpen his backstopping skills, the results look even more impressive. As a junior, Wiegold was thrust into the everyday catching role about 20 games into the season.
“He’s throwing better, blocking better — he’s improved,” said Mundelein manager Todd Parola. “You know, he kind of got thrown in the fire last year, and hadn’t caught much. He continues to get better, and he’s been a big reason as to why we’ve had success.”
Recap: The Mustangs (30-4 overall) reached a milestone when they beat host Highland Park 17-5 on Saturday.
And then, they picked up win No. 31 on Monday with a 4-1 victory over New Trier. Torr Randau, who had one of seven Mundelein hits, drove in two runs. Jared Mandel went the distance to pick up the win.
On deck: Top-seeded Mundelein was scheduled to play Zion-Benton in the first round of the Mustangs’ own IHSA Class 4A regional on Wednesday. The regional title game is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday.