Logan Walstrom made two PIAA Wrestling Tournament appearances in his high school career. Now, the Philipsburg-Osceola senior has a chance to win a state medal doing something he never thought hed do again.
The Mounties (19-5) will try to further their quest to win the schools first PIAA Class AA championship today in a quarterfinal game against District 11 champion Pine Grove (21-6) at Green Township Park in Scotland.
Walstrom, who has become the teams unlikliest of standouts is playing his first and only season of high school baseball and will try to keep his team-best 11-game hit streak intact while also patrolling center field.
I kind of wanted to and I kind of didnt, Walstrom said about coming out for the baseball team. I was planning on wrestling in college and then after (wrestling) states I just kind of focused on playing baseball.
After some coaxing. Andrew Greenawalt and Cody Lee urged Walstrom to pick up a baseball bat. The trio had played together in middle school years ago and Greenawalt and Lee saw an opportunity to add an impressive athlete to an already vaunted lineup.
Hes an awesome athlete, Greenawalt said. Hes focused on wrestling lately and me and Cody Lee both talked him into playing this year. He was an awesome baseball player back whenever we played in teener league. He caught on real quick and hes roping the ball right now.
In addition to his hitting streak which began on April 27 against Central Mountain, Walstrom has improved significantly as the season has progressed.
After he hit .373 in the regular season, Walstrom has picked it up against consistently good pitching. In four playoff games hes upped his average to .417 hitting out of the ninth spot.
When he was in junior high he was a three-sport stud. Football, wrestling and baseball, P-O coach Doug Sankey said.
I think his goal was to always win a wrestling championship and I know when those kids are done with wrestling, theyre spent. A lot of the kids that I coach are wrestlers and it takes them a good two or three weeks to get their strength back.
Greenawalt, who usually wrestled at 138 pounds immediately before Walstrom stepped onto the mat at 145, had to regain weight and strength for the spring that the wrestling season had taken out of him. Now, Sankey estimates Greenawalt is near 165 pounds playing baseball.
Walstrom would likely be closer to his wrestling weight had he not come out for the baseball team. At this time last year, Walstrom was busy toiling away in the P-O wrestling room with coach Tim McCamley and his teammates or wrestling with the traveling Ragin Raisins wrestling club.
It doesnt come as a surprise to McCamley what his former pupil has accomplished in just a few short months on baseball diamonds throughout the state.
I think he could pick up a lacrosse stick and play well, McCamley said. Hes just a tremendous athlete and Im sure he had some rough spots at the beginning of the year, with hitting, fielding, whatever, but there was no doubt in my mind that he could handle that.
Walstrom has used a few traits hes developed through years of wrestling he went 41-5 as a senior to aid him in his approach at the plate.
I think coordination, obviously, balance, McCamley said. Theyre not going to be able to hit because they wrestled, but they get a jump on the ball and I think its the competitive atmosphere, too. A lot of the wrestlers like to go from wrestling to baseball because it isnt as physically demanding one-on-one type of thing. Its more of a team sport and they can relax a little bit more because theyre not in the spotlight every time.
But Walstrom has thrived as the lone man in the batters box.
He answered Sankeys call for more offense after P-O struggled to get baserunners on against Mount Union in a 3-2 District 6 title game loss. Against Loyalsock, Walstrom led off the third and sixth innings with hits. In the third, Walstrom doubled and then scored the games first run a batter later after having swiped third on a wild pitch.
In addition to giving the Mounties a serious threat hitting from the last spot in the order, Walstrom has caused opposing baserunners to think twice about taking extra bases on hits to center.
Hes really come along for us, defensively too, Sankey said. Hes worked hard with our outfield coaches and its one thing to just be able to run really fast. Its another thing to be able to play the outfield and hes really worked hard. Hes come along way. His arm has always been strong.
P-O will likely throw strong-armed Parker Watson as PIAA rules prohibit staff ace Mark Curtis from pitching after he threw a complete game on Monday against Loyalsock Township. Meanwhile, Pine Grove could send Ty Zimmerman back to the mound after Zimmerman played only five innings in a 10-run rule shortened 11-1 win over District 1 champion Springfield Township in the first round.
Travis Johnson can be reached at 231-4629. Follow him on Twitter @traviswjohnson_