LUVERNE -- Skyler Wenninger was an excellent high school baseball player, but that does not guarantee success at the next level. When he made the jump into college ball, there were those who questioned whether he would make the grade.
They needn’t have worried. First of all, Skyler had an excellent baseball teacher at Luverne High School -- his father, Mike. Secondly, young Wenninger already knew how to put in the time and effort to improve at the sport.
He played one season at Minnesota-Duluth, where he was named the team’s 2014 Rookie of the Year. He then made the jump to South Dakota State University -- where his father once played -- and continued to go to work to get better.
“I started three years there at SDSU,” he recalled recently. “I was pretty proud of that. The hard work paid off.”
Since then, young Wenninger has continued his summer activity of playing baseball with the Luverne Redbirds amateur team. In the spring of this year, he went to work again to improve his game, as an assistant coach with the Worthington High School varsity girls fast-pitch softball squad.
Transferring his baseball knowledge to softball concerned him, at first. He wasn’t sure he was the right person for it, but with encouragement from another assistant coach with the team, Brad Grimmius, he pushed his chips all in. He became instrumental in helping the Trojans improve their hitting skills -- teaching them, through drills, how to shift their weight in order to hit pitches with more authority.
The Globe sports department interviewed and took video footage of Skyler Wenninger for The Drill recently. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: What were some of the challenges you had to face making the move from high school baseball to the college game?
ANSWER: “High school pitching is no more than 80 miles per hour, to college at 90-92 miles per hour. A little bit of an adjustment, an eye-opening thing. Everyone is just as good as you are.”
QUESTION: So in the spring you coached high school girls in fast-pitch softball. What was that like?
ANSWER: “Softball is like baseball, but it’s also very different. There were a lot of things I needed to learn. Brad Grimmius, the assistant coach, he said, ‘Hey, we got a pretty good team coming up. You can really help them out.’ He was a big motivator. He was always right in my ear, telling me, ‘Hey, this is good. You can do it.’”
QUESTION: Tell us the most unusual thing about you that most people don’t know.
ANSWER: “When I was in middle school playing baseball, we had a couple of different kids from different towns come play with us in the summer. And one of them kept forgetting my name, and there was a pop fly and he got a little scared. And he started calling me ‘Skid’ out of nowhere. I said, ‘Why did you call me Skid?’ He said, ‘I just couldn’t remember your name.’ Ever since then, that kind of stuck with me. I still get some parents who were around at that time, and they still call me Skid.”