Already named a national champion at age 9, athleticism and dedication to sports have never been a lacking quality for sophomore Wes Schirtzinger. He is prepared for each batter and for each play, and can always be counted on to calmly offer his support to the team. Even with a medical redshirt this season, the Westerville, Ohio, native continues to work on his game and is prepared to do what ever it takes to get back on the field for the Buckeyes.
What role did athletics play in your childhood?
“Sports have played a huge role in my life. Ever since I could swing a bat, I would sit on my dad’s lap and swing off a tee. I’ve just grown up with sports and I was always surrounded by them.”
How did your dad, Steve, a former baseball player for Bowling Green, affect your baseball experience?
“My dad played baseball in high school and at Bowling Green, so he was always a big baseball guy and he became my biggest influence in baseball. He has taught me everything I know and gave me a solid background to play baseball, showing me the fundamentals, like hitting, fielding and the basic things. My dad has always been my coach, too. If I am struggling, he will go out and throw the ball with me and hit me five balls or help me with whatever kind of practice I need. He always taught me to keep a positive attitude and to always hustle, even if things aren’t going my way. He taught me to always play hard and do the best I can.”
You won the National Football League Punt, Pass and Kick national championships when you were 9. How did you get involved in that competition?
“Actually, I was the national runner-up when I was eight, too. My uncle did the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition when he was growing up, and after a long absence, the NFL brought it back and my mom saw an advertisement for it in the newspaper. I was hesitant, but I gave it a shot and am glad that I did. My dad and I would take the football and throw and pass and practice a lot before hand, so it was a lot of hard work, but I made to the championships in Honolulu, Hawaii, and had a lot of fun.”
How was competing at the championships?
“I may have been a little nervous, but the state-level competition was held during a Cincinnati Bengals football half-time show. I had to win states and get one of the Top 5 scores in the country to make it to Honolulu, and I did what I needed to do. Competing in front of thousands of people in Honolulu, I was able to build off the atmosphere and I think in the long run I stayed pretty calm. I think dealing with that at a young age helped me learn to stay calm and cool under pressure, something which I still carry with me today.”
What other sports do you play?
“Mostly I played soccer, football and baseball as a kid. I found myself playing football or basketball with older kids and I could compete well with them. I did grow up with baseball for the most part, but I tried football after my experience with the (NFL) Punt, Pass and Kick competition. My dad had played football in high school and I did want to follow in his footsteps, but in the end, I stuck onto baseball.”
How was it moving from shortstop to the outfield?
“I had played shortstop my whole life, so it was a big adjustment, but I overcame it and now I am comfortable where I am. My athleticism has helped me with the transition and I was able to jump back and forth and accept the new position.”
What do you think about during a game when you are in the outfield?
“I always try to be one play ahead and one pitch ahead. I try to figure out what I will do with the play when the ball is hit to me. It’s about being one step ahead and knowing where to throw or where to be on the next hit at all times.”
How did you feel starting in your second collegiate game last year against Oklahoma?
“It was a big accomplishment for me. You get to a game, against a really good Division I team, and it gets really exciting. Once that first hitter got out of the way, everything seemed to flow and I settled in. I was a little nervous going into that game, but by the end, it was just like any other game.”
Why did you decide to attend Ohio State?
“It was the family factor. I’m a real family guy and I enjoy having my family around for my games. Going somewhere else would not have been the same without the support of my family at each game. And now, I love seeing my family at Bill Davis stadium and being in the atmosphere which Buckeye fans create. It’s just a great experience.”
Do you look for your family at the home games?
“I grew up in central Ohio, so my sisters, grandparents and parents could always come out to my home games and offer their support. And now, it helps out a lot to see them in the crowd for every game. My grandmother is always really loud and I can hear her anywhere on the field. She is one of my biggest fans and I love having her at the games. Ever since I was little, she was known for getting up and voicing her opinion, screaming and cheering me on. I really appreciate her support.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“Hopefully, I will be married and maybe with a career in professional baseball. Right now, I am leaning towards a major in exercise science, so maybe I will be doing something with that in the future. The injury that I sustained this year and my medical redshirt has persuaded me to help other people with rehabilitation and physical therapy and with things in that field. I would want to help people out and apply what I have learned in dealing with my own injury.”
How are you dealing with taking a medical redshirt this season?
“Being a competitor and athlete, I want to be out in the field and helping my team win. It’s hard to just sit there and watch, especially when you want to help out other people. I try to stay positive and help my teammates when I can, and I am keeping a good spirit. I don’t go crazy or yell out, but try to keep people motivated in my own way.”
Which has been your favorite baseball game as a Buckeye?
“The Auburn games last year at the (NCAA) regionals were one of the best atmospheres I have ever played in. It was high intensity and we were the underdogs, and everyone expected Auburn to win. But we went down there and beat Auburn twice, and with the rowdy Southern fans, we just silenced the crowd. By the end of those games, you could only hear the Ohio State fans cheering. It was just awesome.”