When Wyatt Toregas joined the Park View High School baseball team's varsity as a freshman last year, he was just 5 feet 4 inches and 125 pounds. He wanted to play catcher, but Patriots coaches almost laughed, and they put him at second base, a position more suited to his stature.
So Toregas resolved to spend time in the weight room, and after bulking up to 175 pounds, as well as growing a few inches, the rising junior is establishing himself as a player to watch next spring at Park View.
Toregas consistently has led the traveling team Potomac Mudcats this summer with a batting average that has hovered around .500, replicating the average he said he had for Park View during the spring. The right-handed hitter, who also has played outfield for the Mudcats, credits his weightlifting for his play.
"It makes you feel better, that's one thing it does," he said. "It makes you play better. You're more powerful. You're body moves a lot better when it's stronger."
Toregas had another reason to bulk up: He is a star wrestler for Park View, going 29-7 in the 140-pound weight class last winter. He said he doesn't know anyone else who plays baseball and wrestles.
After playing outfield for Sterling Post 150 in the American Legion's 16th District last summer, this is Toregas's first summer for the Mudcats.
"He is a natural hitter," Potomac Manager Joe Pozda said. "He flat out pounds the ball. He's aggressive, and he just has a great eye at the plate. He just has a hitter's mentality and attacks the ball."
As a freshman at Park View, he played the first half of the season at catcher for the junior varsity, then was moved up and started at second base. He said he batted .308.
This spring, he started every game for the Patriots, who went 11-7 and were eliminated in the first round of the district playoffs. But Toregas solidified himself as the starting catcher, throwing out 60 percent of would-be base stealers, he said.
He also hit two home runs, his first since Loudoun County little league, which was also where he first learned to play catcher.
"It wasn't even my idea to catch," he said. "I wanted to play outfield. But they didn't have any catchers, so they put me behind there, and I liked it."
And as long as he keeps producing like he is now, no one is likely to move him from his beloved position anymore.
Loudoun Post Has 2 Firsts
The Loudoun Post 34 and Sterling Post 150 teams have earned playoff berths in the 16th District of the American Legion baseball league. Loudoun, coached by Carl Watkins, earned its first division title and playoff berth in its four years of existence.
"I think it was the commitment of the kids," said Watkins, whose team finished with a 13-6 record. "In previous years, I'd even say we had better teams. But this year, the kids set themselves to winning and showed it when it counted."
In the first round of the playoffs this weekend, Loudoun plays Stafford Post 290, the second-place team in Division A, while Sterling (13-7) will play Fredericksburg Post 55, the first-place team in the A Division.
Warrenton Post 72, which started the season strongly, struggled to a third-place finish in Division C, with a 10-9 record. Purcellville Post 293 finished 5-15 in Division D; it actually would have qualified for a playoff spot by a half-game, but the coach had told the legion he didn't have enough players because of Babe Ruth to participate.
CAPTION: American Legion Baseball (This graphic was not available)