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Athlete of the Week: Gainesville's Skyler Weber

Sophomore hit two grand slams in one inning

POSTED: March 7, 2011 5:46 p.m.

Athlete of the Week

Skyler Weber is a sophomore catcher for Gainesville High. He hit two grand slams in the fourth inning during the Red Elephants' 16-0 win over Lanier on Wednesday.

Last season, the Gainesville High baseball team was anchored by four seniors and made the state quarterfinals before being eliminated by Thomson.

This season, the Red Elephants are again led by four seniors, but coach Jeremy Kemp believes that this team may be in better position to go further than the quarterfinals.

According to Kemp, the difference between this team and the 2010 version is the depth that youth offers.

"We've got six guys we feel like we can send to the mound, we have a lot of strong arms in the outfield and a lot of good hitting at the plate," Kemp said. "Our young guys are going to be big for us this season."

Leading that pack of new Gainesville talent last week was sophomore catcher Skyler Weber.

Tasked with replacing The Times All-Area first-team catcher Sloan Strickland, who is now at Georgia Perimeter College, Weber rose to the challenge by hitting two grand slams in the fourth inning of a 16-0 route of Lanier on Wednesday.

For his efforts, Weber is The Times Athlete of the Week.

"I'm not a power hitter," Weber said of the two home runs. "I'm always thinking opposite-field line drives, but it just sort of happened."

Both hits came on 2-2 counts, on pitches that had been left a little high and inside, and Weber said he just "got on top of them."

"Even after hitting the first, I still wasn't even thinking home run the second time I came up," Weber said. "I was still just trying to make contact."

The focus on making contact and getting on base is Weber's job as the No. 2 hitter in Kemp's lineup, and the sophomore has no plans to turn toward power hitting.

"Those were probably the 10th and 11th home runs I've ever hit," Weber said. "So I'll stick with what's worked so far."

The catcher said he has played baseball since he was four or five and that power has never been a big part of his game.

That's just fine with Kemp, who cautioned his catcher to "stay humble" after the big day Wednesday.

"He's a good kid, a hard worker, real steady," Kemp said. "He doesn't make any mistakes you expect from young guys, which is good because our team relies on the young guys."

With the nucleus of juniors Stephen Mason, David Gonzalez and Ryan Griffith and seniors Will Maddox and Michael Lorentz, Kemp believes his young pitching staff, led by sophomore Hunter Anglin, and his young hitters can propel Gainesville closer to its first state title since 2002.

"We've got the tools to do it," Kemp said. "The season is not a sprint and we have some issues to work out, but I think we can get there."

Gainesville visits Monroe Area at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday.



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