Former Saint a hit at ChowanPublished 10:49pm Friday, April 12, 2013
Former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy baseball standout Anthony Waldner has transitioned into the world of college ball by earning a spot in the lineup as a freshman at Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C.
After seeing little playing time in February, Waldner made the most of a playing opportunity in mid-March and is batting .351 for the Hawks this season. He was an offensive force in their last two games played last weekend at home against Shaw University, going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI in a 7-2 win. The next day, he went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI in a 12-3 win.
Chowan head coach Taylor Furlough praised Waldner for knowing his strengths and playing to them, a quality that freshmen often lack.
“He battles, he’s not going to strike out,” Furlough said. “He does a great job of doing something positive with every at bat, and that’s done wonders for our offense.”
“The biggest thing with me since high school has been confidence with hitting,” Waldner said. “That’s my biggest thing. If I feel like I’m confident, it’s going to happen. I was lucky enough to have a good coach my senior year, who really helped me with hitting too — Coach (David) Mitchell at NSA.”
Mitchell has not been surprised by the collegiate success of Waldner, who last year had the highest batting average among all Division II programs in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association, as well as all programs in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools.
“He never struck out in four years of varsity baseball participation,” Mitchell said. “So, we all knew Anthony could hit.”
Though Waldner is small in stature by the standards of college coaches, Mitchell always championed his bat and fielding ability. Waldner started out on the mound with the Hawks, but then Furlough worked him in as a pinch hitter and he soon began batting second and playing second base.
“We’re all proud of him here at NSA,” Mitchell said. “We knew he could do it. He just needed that opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of it.”
While much about Waldner’s play is similar in success to high school, the transition has involved some substantial adjustments. He said good time management is vital, balancing school with a playing schedule that has 30-plus more games than in high school. Additionally, weight training and 6 a.m. workouts make the concept of a college off-season extinct.
His position on the field and in the lineup is different from at NSA, but he has adapted there too and noticed growth in his ability to be a team player and get hit-and-runs, slashes and bunts, which are plays designed to move runners over.
“Coach Furlough really stresses that and that’s a big part of our game,” Waldner said. “So, that’s something I feel like I’ve really improved in, handling the bat a lot better. I have confidence in the people around me in the lineup that they’ll get the job done.”
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament takes place next week, and Waldner likes the Hawks’ chances. They are 16-25 overall and 8-7 in the conference, and Waldner said that after they have kept up with some top-ranked teams in the region, “I feel we have a really good shot of winning regionals too.”