Wheeler to play college baseball

Coming together at Jake Wheeler's scholarship signing, front from left, are David Wheeler, Jake Wheeler, Stephanie Wheeler and Drew Wheeler; and back, principal Mike Postlewait, coach Darin Henderson, Tate Wheeler, Larry Wheeler and activities director Mike Kenney.

—Photo by Robert Jackson

Jake Wheeler, Stockton High School, signed a scholarship offer to play baseball at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City Thursday, Feb. 1.

Wheeler said the coaches at the college heard about him and then saw him play, hitting and fielding, on videos. They eventually contacted Wheeler and convinced him to accept a baseball scholarship to play shortstop at their college.

Wheeler said he will work on his baseball skills when pre-season practice resumes and then the regular season begins in March.

He said once high school baseball ends, "I will have a lot of free time on my hand," because this summer will be the first summer he did not have to prepare for football.

Wheeler will go to Maple Woods in August to begin working out with his college teammates and registering for his college classes.

Wheeler is a three-sport star for Stockton High School. He plays football, basketball and baseball. He has played all three since his freshman year at SHS.

Wheeler has been playing baseball since he was 5 or 6 years old, but has played for Larry Wheeler, his grandfather since he was 9. Wheeler continues to work with Jake as an assistant coach at Stockton High School.

In his four years as a starter at Stockton, Wheeler has been a shortstop, outfielder and pitcher. He said he will play shortstop at Maple Woods.

"He's special," Tiger head coach Darin Henderson said, "He's got the ability to play different positions, different roles. I'm never worried about him."

Henderson said he had to watch Wheeler and keep him from playing every game and every inning during summer baseball.

"That shows how competitive he is; he enjoys the competitive nature of it," Henderson said.

At an all-star game in Springfield last summer, Wheeler stepped up against other high school players and was named most valuable player.

"He steps up, he raises his level to whatever is needed to be successful," Henderson said.

Wheeler set the school record in baseball for walks as a freshman, and then broke his record as a sophomore.

"At the plate he doesn't swing at a ball," Henderson said of Wheeler's sharp eye.

Wheeler also is a team player, Henderson said.

The Stockton coach said he preaches team and family as opposed to individual success. Wheeler has been an integral team member as the Tigers have won three consecutive district tournament titles since his freshman season.

The 2018 season begins Tuesday, March 13, with a jamboree in Stockton, and Wheeler will be in the lineup.

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