South Xtra: Lebo grad shines on diamond at Vassar

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Four hundred miles away from Mt. Lebanon sits a small college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., called Vassar College.

Vassar was originated as an all-women's school and was a part of the prestigious "Seven Sisters" schools, which was the female equivalent of the Ivy League.

In 1968, Vassar began admitting male students and has been a full-time co-ed institution since.

Why does this matter?

One of the district's own, Mt. Lebanon's Cory Wuenschell, has embraced Vassar as his new home. The old song goes that "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," but at Vassar, it seems that they are treating the males OK as well. At least that's what Wuenschell has learned.

"It was really a great opportunity to get a great education," Wuenschell said. "I came here for the education and I was able to pursue four more years of baseball."

Wuenschell is majoring in economics but might as well picked up a minor in becoming a star on the Brewers baseball team.

Wuenschell is a sophomore catcher who has ripped the cover off the ball in the early part of the season, but it wasn't without a little struggle first.

As a freshman, Wuenschell hit just .217 (5-for-23) and found it hard to earn playing time.

"Every game I was itching to get in," Wuenschell said. "It just so happened that things didn't work out in my favor, but it served as a great motivator into this year. It was tough not to play but it motivated me to step it up this year."

Wuenschell worked hard and matured over the winter to make sure he gave Vassar coach Jon Martin no choice but to insert him into the starting lineup.

"Just confidence at the plate," Wuenschell said. "Whenever I am confident in there, it is easier to pick out the right pitch. I made sure I got a lot of reps in over the winter."

"I came out of the winter really confident. I just wanted to stay calm and stay loose at the plate. I knew my mechanics were pretty sound. I wouldn't say that it was a surprise but definitely very encouraging that I start out like that."

Vassar got six games in during a sopring break trip to Florida, but the unrelenting winter has prevented them from getting in any more games since coming north. The Brewers went 3-3 in those first six games.

Through Vassar's first 11 games -- the Brewers were 6-5 before a scheduled game Wednesday against Skidmore -- Wuenschell was second on the team in batting average (.414) and home runs (2) and tied for the team lead with 12 RBIs.

In his first start of the year, Wuenschell went 3-for-4 with six RBIs and belted two home runs in the Brewers' 16-7 win against Franklin & Marshall.

"It was great," Wuenschell said. "They are a great ballclub and I came in very focused. It was my first start of the season and I wanted to make an impact. I am just trying to square the ball up every time I get up there. I have been taking good swings and when they go out of the park, it is a bonus."

If the start of this year is a sign of things to come, Wuenschell will be able to put a Western Pennsylvania stamp on the record books at Vassar, a goal he has already set out to do.

"I would love to be one of the offensive leaders for all the main categories," Wuenschell said. "We have a great leader in Brett Zaziski and he is one of the leaders now. He is a great influence on me. My personal goal is to be in the top five in the offensive categories by the time I graduate."

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