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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Prep baseball: Three-sport star Xander Werkman shines for St. George’s

UPDATED: Wed., April 17, 2019

Xander Werkman of St. George’s waits for a pitch against visiting Springdale on Tuesday. (Dave Nichols / The Spokesman-Review)
Xander Werkman of St. George’s waits for a pitch against visiting Springdale on Tuesday. (Dave Nichols / The Spokesman-Review)

Xander Werkman is a busy guy.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior at St. George’s not only plays three sports, but excels at all of them.

In the fall, Werkman was a first-team All-Greater Spokane League 4A selection at offensive tackle representing Lewis and Clark, since St. George’s doesn’t field a football team.

Over the winter, the big man was first-team All-Northeast 2B in basketball and helped lead the Dragons to their second consecutive State 2B second-place trophy, falling to Gonzaga recruit Brock Ravet and his Kittitas squad both times.

Last week he made his presence felt on the baseball diamond in a big way.

On Wednesday, Werkman struck out 16 in a no-hitter as the Dragons blanked Liberty 11-0 on the road. He also went 2 for 5 with a triple and five runs. Then on Thursday, he went 4 for 6 with a double and three RBIs and the visiting Dragons defeated Riverside.

For his effort, Werkman was named state baseball player of the week by the WIAA.

“I was just like seeing the ball really well,” Werkman said on Tuesday. “When I get my pitch, I just hit it.

“And then no-hitter – I was just trusting my team, throwing strikes, knowing that if they hit it, though, my team will get them out. And yeah, I just had a lot of confidence. That’s what baseball is all about. So, you know, I look to go forward and do that more.”

In a doubleheader sweep at home against Springdale on Tuesday, Werkman picked up another win in the first game and had four doubles in the second, including a blast to straight center in the fifth that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double.

For the season, Werkman is hitting .737 (28 for 38) with 11 doubles, a homer and 16 RBIs. He has a 2.42 earned-run average with 32 strikeouts in five games pitched.

St. George’s (8-2) has a league doubleheader showdown against Northwest Christian on Saturday.

“It’s a blessing to have a guy who is motivated and obviously a great athlete,” St. George’s baseball coach Mark Rickard said. “A great talent, but also a guy who is of great character, a good team leader. So to me, just all around he represents us at our best.

“To have a guy like that really is great for the team, elevates them and, you know, he does a great job getting us where we need to be.”

Rickard said Werkman is all about the team, regardless of which uniform he put on.

“You never get a sense that Xander is out for Xander,” he said. “He’s always working on great energy in practice, great energy in the games, and it’s a real joy and a pleasure to be around. So I think that translates, whether it’s at LC or at St. George’s, and I think that’ll definitely translate at the next level.”

Werkman is one of a few area athletes who attends a smaller school, but participates with a bigger school in a sport his home school doesn’t offer.

The leap from 2B at St. George’s to the 4A GSL is a big one.

“With football, I think there’s more of a competition in practice. Like in the GSL, there’s more people,” Werkman said. “So you always got to be on it and practice. In basketball, baseball, you do, too. But you know, it’s more like, I have a bigger leadership role to fill (at St. George’s) because there’s not as many guys at my skill level or size in 2B then there are like in the GSL.”

Werkman deflected the idea that he could play any sport he wanted to at any level in high school, but a player with his size and ability is rare at the highest levels, let alone in the 2B ranks.

He will take his hoops game to Brunswick, Maine, next year to play for Division III Bowdoin College.

Werkman played summer basketball against higher competition but found a comfort level with his squad at St. George’s.

“I really love my teammates here,” he said. “It’s a good community to play in, especially my basketball team. Been together with them for, like, three years. It’s a family atmosphere for me.”

Werkman said he had the best of both worlds playing basketball and baseball at St. George’s and football at LC.

“This is my home,” he said from the St. George’s campus. “But my second home is LC. I also play for them and that’s my football family, too. And they brought me in there, they were great to me. I’m really thankful for that.”

Werkman has always stood out as a leader among his peers, but as he ascended to an upperclassman he has assumed even more of a vocal role.

During the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Werkman joined with others on the bench, giving a teammate a hard time for tripping when he rounded second base and had to stumble back to the bag.

“We like to keep it loose in baseball,” Werkman said. “And basketball, too. I mean, it’s always good to be loose.”

Baseball often has a reputation for t being a bit stuffy, but Rickard doesn’t see that as a problem in his dugout.

“There are a lot of unwritten rules,” he said. “But, you know, with these guys, I love their energy. I like I like when they’re having fun.

“We’re pretty upperclassmen-centric on this team, and they do a good job of balancing fun and focus. And Xander, you know, he’s got to be the epitome of that.”

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