Prep baseball

Swisher has been an anchor for young Morgan Township baseball team

2014-05-08T18:00:00Z 2014-05-09T00:05:14Z Swisher has been an anchor for young Morgan Township baseball teamJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

His first few years in baseball, Morgan Township's Will Swisher was the guy stuck in right field.

Once he realized right was wrong and left was right, fortunes changed.

"I didn't really know right from left back then," Swisher recalled. "It's weird looking back at my Little League pictures. I used to bat right-handed. One day, I just switched. The next time up, I was like, 'Hey, I'll try it the other way.' I hit a triple and I've batted left-handed ever since. I used to throw right-handed, too. Fortunately, my dad's left-handed, so I just used his glove. I thought, 'Whoa, this feels right.'"

A fixture since he was a freshman, Swisher has been a part of two sectional titles, a younger player on an older team. This season, the roles are reversed. He's one of only two seniors on a sophomore-laden roster.

"It's crazy," Swisher said. "I was with those other guys since like T-Ball. I was always just a player. Now my job's actually to be more of a leader. I have to step up and show guys how to do things. I'm not a very vocal guy, but it's been nice in the sense that it's helped me mature."

An aspiring coach, Swisher speaks loudest with his habits and performance. He tops the team with a .400 average and shares the RBI lead with 16.

"Will has always been a good hitter," coach Jason Dorshorst said. "He was on some pretty strong teams and was kind of the forgotten guy. All the big boys graduated, and now he and Jake (Koselke) are the only established bats. We've talked about him being more take charge, but that's not who he is. I think the kids respect the way he handles himself. He's put a lot of work into it and they've picked up on that."

Over the winter, Swisher lifted weights at the school and YMCA, and took hitting lessons with Rich Bafia. As the season started, he noticed  teams, particularly Porter County Conference foes, were pitching him more carefully. His patience proved to be a virtue.

"He's good at taking what a pitcher gives him," Dorshorst said. "He'll work deep into counts, which is something we really stress. He'll take his walks. He uses the whole field."

Swisher takes great pride in his contact rate. He's fanned just four times in 60 plate appearances.

"My goal at the beginning was to strike out under five times," he said. "So far, it's working. It's getting close. The biggest difference is my approach to lefties. Before, I'd try to hit them like righties. Now I try to take them to the opposite field. I'm getting a lot of pitches I'm not liking as much, but if I walk, I walk. The last couple years, I've realized I don't need to try to hit a home run every time up."

With Morgan also green on the mound, Swisher is throwing regularly for the first time.

"I've never had that before; it's nice to finally get the chance," he said. "Like in the Boone game, I didn't hit too well, but I felt like I did something because I pitched (well). I like pitching as much as (playing) first base."

Admittedly, Swisher isn't going to blow anyone's doors off with a 65 miles-per-hour "fast" ball. He pitches to contact, fitting the tag of a crafty southpaw.

"He can throw his curveball for strikes or put it in the dirt like a cutter," Dorshorst said. "He throws so much slow stuff, it looks like he's got a little bit of zip."

Despite its youth, Morgan (9-8) has held it together, and both Swisher's presence and production are big reasons.

"It's definitely been an adjustment for him," Dorshorst said. "He was with the older guys, now all of a sudden, he's the experience. We were expecting some growing pains, but we're headed in the right direction."

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