Unsung hero: Baylor baseball’s Wehsener flourishes in underrated role

Redshirt junior first baseman Chase Wehsener continues to be a foundational piece for Baylor baseball, without seeking any of the credit or glory. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

We all take things for granted in life — even when they’re invaluable. For Baylor baseball, that dependable piece is redshirt junior first baseman Chase Wehsener who excels in a critical role without needing the glory.

“He’s just kind of like our foundation. He’s been here the longest and one thing you just can’t respect enough about that guy is he knows his role,” junior infielder Jack Pineda said. “He just comes out here and does his job each and every day. He doesn’t care about who gets credit or anything like that; he just wants to win. It’s really fun to play with a guy like that.”

Along with the players, head coach Steve Rodriguez – while he enjoys poking fun at Wehsener’s age – appreciates having the veteran out of San Diego, Calif. and made sure to tap into the potential during his redshirt year in 2018.

“Well Chase is like 40 years old, he’s been here long. What’s interesting [is] his freshman year, he didn’t play,” Rodriguez said. “He traveled with us every day, every game, simply because I knew he had an opportunity to be a really good first baseman, and I wanted him to be around us as much as possible. So he didn’t play his first year, and then he comes back and he’s able to do what he’s doing now.”

That time, while not that long ago in Wehsener’s eyes, helped shape him into one of the quieter leaders for the squad.

“Well, I still feel young, I’m only 22, so I’m young for my grade. It’s great to be around these guys and just have an opportunity to be a leader and be a mentor at times when they need to,” Wehsener said. “At the same time, they’re really mature guys that know how to do their job and come out here and put the work in so I don’t need to say a lot. But when I do, it’s great to be able to help out in any way I can.”

That sustained consistency is huge for Rodriguez, as he’s been able to count on the first baseman to thrive in any situation.

“My gosh, the consistency that he’s given us,” Rodriguez said. “Going from the bottom of the order to the middle of the order, coming up huge in a lot of different capacities, hitting the ball over the field, and then playing great defense, that’s exactly what you look for in your older guys.”

Over time, Wehsener has been a real threat at the plate. This year in particular, he is finding his groove with an approach that is working well.

“I really just try to buy into that middle opposite field approach; It’s helped out for even seeing off speed pitches too,” Wehsener said. “If I’m thinking the other way then I’m going to be on time for that off speed pitch a lot better [and] not be swinging at ones in the dirt as much and pulling off those. It’s really been great for me to just buy into that and see results from it so just trying to stick with that.”

Being able to find an approach that works is one of the biggest things for Rodriguez.

“He’s starting to understand who he is as a player. The biggest thing is he’s a veteran, so he starts to have a good approach and he realizes that good approach is having success for him,” Rodriguez said. “One game he had [a] single to the right, single to the center [and] to the left and that’s just what a great approach does. If you don’t start forcing at bats – you take what they give you – that’s what maturity does.”

On the defensive side, Baylor has flipped the switch in turning double plays this year, highlighted by the “Double Play Duo.” Another instrumental piece to that connection is Wehsener, who loves being able to get momentum off twin killings from the tandem.

“Yeah, it’s a blessing. I mean, it’s great. Anytime we can turn those double plays it changes the energy of the game,” Wehsener said. “We need every energy shift we can get and it’s just awesome to see them work up the middle together. They’re great together and most of the throws have been great, so I don’t have anything to complain about, I love it.”

Pineda, one half of the pairing, greatly appreciates Wehsener for having a reliable glove to throw to for those big plays. While Wehsener doesn’t get the glamor and recognition that others get, the duo – along with the team – know they can expect him to come through in a big way.

“He saves us tons of errors,” Pineda said. “When we throw it over there it’s nice to just kind of be able to catch it and not worry about the throw too much because you know if you just get it close, he’s gonna catch it.”