He could throw the ball by people if he wanted, that much he knew. He just didn’t always know where it would end up.
“When I was younger, I could throw hard but I had no clue where it was going,” Widener said.
He devoted more time to working at pitching when he became a teenager, and this year, his rocket arm and deadly bat worked together to give him a strong junior season. South Aiken claimed the District VI championship, and Widener earned an individual honor as The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina baseball player of the year.
Thoroughbreds coach Bob Polewski has seen Widener’s fastball reach 93 mph but thinks it could reach 95 with another year of maturity and time in the weight room.
This season, Widener’s fastball helped him strike out 52 in 47 innings as he went 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA.
The next step is to find and command a second and third pitch to create an arsenal. With other good pitch options, hitters would have to think twice about sitting on the fastball.
Even when Widener wasn’t retiring hitters, he would contribute with his bat.
Widener, whose father played at Aiken, hit .329 with five home runs. His 24 RBI put him second on the team, but his .658 slugging average was tops. He also led the Thoroughbreds in other key offensive categories such as walks (21) and on-base percentage (.516).
With Widener dangerous in the batter’s box and on the mound, Polewski can see him receiving more attention in the near future.
“He’s understanding now the possibilities of what can happen for him in this game,” Polewski said. “There could possibly be a lot at stake for him next year.”