Head in the game
Saxons’ talented catcher will play baseball for University of Hawaii
Ferris catcher Alex Jondal leaned over the plate, holding the bat high in his long arms.
He readied himself for the pitch from Mead’s Justin Dolezal. But the ball got away and plunked Jondal, who didn’t flinch before he took off for first base.
With one out and his team trailing by a run on Tuesday, coach Jim Sharkey gave Jondal the green light. The kid, who stands on the tall side of 6-foot-3, took off running and slid to beat the throw to second base.
His Saxons teammates all stood up and began to cheer and clap as Jondal dusted himself off.
Asked why his team cheered, Jondal answered without pausing: “Because I’m not the fastest player in the world.”
He paused, his face contorted in thought, and continued. “That’s my first stolen base in my four years here.”
It’s been four years with plenty of accolades in the Greater Spokane League.
Playing behind All-GSL catcher Ryan Krustangel, Jondal played in the outfield as a freshman and was picked on the All-GSL second team.
He then went back to his favorite position and has been the reigning All-GSL catcher for the last two years.
In the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday, Ferris’ Tim Yoshihara reached on an error and Tanner Parker hit a soft fly to center field for a single. Reich then elected to walk Jondal to load the bases.
“He’s a work horse,” Mead coach Jason Reich said of Jondal. “He can carry that team. That’s why we intentionally walked him.”
In stats compiled as of last weekend, Jondal was hitting .359, with five doubles, a home run and 14 runs batted in. His play also caught the notice of college recruiters.
Turning down two Ivy League schools, Jondal accepted a scholarship to play for Hawaii.
“I get the opportunity to play baseball and get an education,” he said. “The weather is nice, too.”
Armed and dangerous
Crouched behind the plate, Jondal contorts his 215 pounds in all different directions as he directs the pitcher on the next throw.
In the top of the third, with his team down a run and runners on first and second, Mead’s Reich called for his runners to attempt a double steal.
Ferris pitcher Griffin Davis delivered the throw. Jondal bobbled the ball but still gunned it to second base and the runner was tagged out.
“It’s really tough to run on him,” Sharkey said. “He really neutralizes the run game for a lot of teams.”
It’s those interactions that drew Jondal behind the plate. As a young boy, Jondal said he had trouble focusing on the game if he played in the outfield.
“That’s why I got into catching,” he said. “Behind the plate, I could stay focused because it keeps me in the game the whole time.”
Sharkey said his senior catcher has a 3.8 grade-point average.
“He’s one of the top students in the school,” Sharkey said. “He’s a little goofy, but he has a lot of fun while he’s out here.”
Jondal, 18, followed teammate Krustangel, who was second-team All-GSL in 2009 and first team in 2010 and 2011. Jondal earned that title in 2012 and 2013 and could make five straight years that a Ferris catcher has carried that honor.
“I’ve been very fortunate as a coach to have those two,” Sharkey said.