Wadsworth catcher Matt Moore has always seen himself as a baseball player, recounting a story his parents tell about him learning how to throw a baseball before he learned how to walk.
Now, after years of hard work honing his skills and fine-tuning his body, Moore finds himself as the driving force of the Wadsworth offense from the cleanup spot.
“I can remember him as a little pudgy freshman that rolled in, and you weren’t real sure what he was going to be, but in the span of a year he really transformed his body and just kept going,” Grizzlies coach Greg Pickard said. “From that point on, we’ve been trying to bulk him up a little bit, being a catcher and wanting him to be a power spot in the lineup.”
Moore, who hit .197 as a junior, has used that extra strength to become a .361 hitter for Wadsworth and will continue his career at Division III Wittenberg. He has scored 14 runs for the Grizzlies and leads the team with 24 RBIs.
“Coming into this school year, I didn’t really think college ball was going to be in my future,” Moore said. “I was a skinny kid and hadn’t hit over .200 in my high school career, so I didn’t really think that was going to be a possibility.
“(Assistant) Coach (Bill) Gearhart helped me a lot and convinced me I should give it a shot, maybe see what teams would be interested.”
Moore worked with Gearhart to put together the type of information and recruiting packages college coaches want to see and then went to work on the field.
“(Gearhart) sent out videos to coaches all over the place, shot videos of me and got statistics,” Moore said. “As I grew, gained weight and as I got better, he was sending that stuff out and Wittenberg’s coach, (Brian) McGee, emailed him back and sounded excited.
“I went down over spring break for a visit and canceled all my other visits that day, because that’s what I was going to do.”
Moore was in the weight room with some of his teammates six days a week for two hours at a time in the months leading into the season, all with eyes on getting better, competing in the Suburban League National Conference and looking toward a postseason run.
Moore added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason and is hitting the ball harder and finding more holes. He has the second-highest batting average on the team.
“He’s having a great year,” Pickard said. “Him and (Jake) Peebles (20 RBIs) are kind of having a competition for RBIs, and they’re both carrying us there. Behind the plate, I just can’t say enough. He’s done a great job whether it’s receiving, working with our pitchers or throwing baserunners out.”
Moore has thrown out 36 percent of runners who have attempted to steal.
“I can think of a few times this year where he’s thrown baserunners out, and it’s been really impressive,” Pickard said.
Baseball always has been part of Moore’s life, and now has taken him all the way to college. He’s grateful for all the opportunities the game has presented him.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I even quit soccer early to play it more. I do it in the spring and the fall. It really is the best sport, and I couldn’t imagine doing any other sport.”