2014-07-03 / Sports

Glen Lake pitching star Xavier-bound

By Mike Spencer
Of The Enterprise staff

THOMAS WANING of Glen Lake removes his hat after escaping a sixth-inning, basesloaded jam in the Division 4 regional win vs. Frankfort at Frankfort on June 6. THOMAS WANING of Glen Lake removes his hat after escaping a sixth-inning, basesloaded jam in the Division 4 regional win vs. Frankfort at Frankfort on June 6. Thomas Waning just completed one of the best pitching careers in the history of the Glen Lake baseball program.

Now Waning is going to make his pitch at Xavier University, the Big East championship team.

“My decision kind of fell into place,” said Waning, who was 12-2 on the mound this year for the 32-3-1 Lakers.

Waning, who finished as the school’s career record holder for wins (33) and strikeouts (401) and broke the singleseason marks for strikeouts (76) and ERA (0.66), visited the Cincinnati, Ohio school in mid-December.

“My grandfather had recommended looking at Xavier due to the prestigious academic standard that they have, so I did and I looked into their baseball program as well,” said Waning, who contacted the school’s pitching coach Nick Otte. “I liked the campus a lot and coach Otte asked me to come back down in late January to pitch.

“When I went back, coach Otte liked my mechanics and told me that all I needed to do was pick up a few miles per hour on my velocity.”

Waning was throwing 85 miles per hour. Last Saturday at Davenport University, he was clocked between 85-88 for his travel team.

The son of Mike and Dawn Waning plans to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery. He will major in natural sciences.

“Xavier is one big family that takes care of each other and I really liked that,” said Waning, noting that he has a half dozen relatives who have graduated from Xavier. “So it’s nice to continue the family legacy there.”

Waning, who had a dream season with four no-hitters this year and four 18-strikeout games, still hasn’t lost sight of his childhood dream of playing pro ball.

“College academics are more important to me because they will help pave my future,” he said. “But if the opportunity knocks and I’m blessed to get drafted, I might take the opportunity.”

Waning said he only expects to pitch in relief his freshman year at Xavier.

“I don’t know how much I will get to play my freshman year, maybe a few innings here or there, but nothing big,” Waning said.

Waning, who helped the Lakers to back-to-back Division 4 state semifinal appearances, said he has a number of things to work on to get to the next level.

“I know the biggest transitions will be the hitters and the strike zone,” he said. “The higher the level of baseball, the better the hitters get and the smaller the strike zone is.”

Waning said he’ll work on that this summer with the Grand Rapids Elite A’s, which has eight Division 1 players.

“It’ll help with my transition to college ball because the hitters I face allow me to see what I will face next year,” he added.

Waning played four varsity seasons for Glen Lake, but was the No. 2 pitcher his freshman year.

“I’m very happy about my four years,” he said. “I worked hard for what I achieved, but I still have more work to do.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better coach and group of guys to play with.”

Waning said there many highlights, but winning the quarterfinals the past two years rates among the best.

“Those games mean the most to me because both years we played our best baseball as a team.” he said.

Waning, who was a state champion skier and a two-way starter on the football team, will ski again after college.

“Skiing is something that I can do for the rest of my life,” he said. “But my days of playing football are over though.

“My focus is 100 percent on baseball, year round.”

Waning credited several coaches for his success: Jay Hook, former major leaguer who helped him in his early days; coach Kris Herman, who helped him fine tune things; and Elite coaches Mike Paul and Jim Abbott, who helped him increase his velocy and ball movement.

“I have to thank everybody who has helped me in any way, especially coach Herman,” Waning said. “He doesn’t get the credit that he deserves.

“But he is a fantastic coach that has helped me a ton throughout high school on and off the field.”

Herman said he does not know a lot about Xavier’s program, other than it is solid and well-respected and the campus and baseball facilities are excellent.

“It’s the perfect place for Thomas to end up, in both the academic and baseball aspects,” Herman said. “He’s going to be very happy there and has set himself up well for the rest of his life.”

Herman said he expects Waning to ease into college pitching.

“Thomas has been told to expect around 20 innings of mound time this year, and I believe that they will increase that the more that they get to know his work ethic toward his craft,” Herman said. “He already pitches in the mid 80’s, and he still has some growing to do.

“All he’s going to do is get stronger and better. I’m very proud of him, and extremely happy that he’s reached a goal he’s worked so hard for.”

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