Jeffery throws bat away
Putting down the bat was the best career move Matt Jeffery ever made.
The 18-year-old St. Catharines native was always a strong power hitter through minor baseball, but as he grew older and stronger, also began to develop as a pitcher.
Jeffery played the last two seasons with Burlington of the Elite Baseball League of Ontario, then hooked up with the Fieldhouse Pirates club program, which turned him into a pitcher only.
That was the turning point for the Sir Winston Churchill graduate who has committed to the Lourdes Gray Wolves for the 2020/21 season.
Lourdes University, located in northwest Ohio, is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and plays in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC).
“They turned me into a pitcher, which I had done it in the past and I always enjoyed pitching,” Jeffrey said. “I’ve gained a significant amount of strength. They put a lot of fresh mechanics on me so I’ve gained a little bit of velocity.”
Jeffery, who is now touching 88 miles-per-hour on the radar gun, tipped his cap to the Fieldhouse program, which is based in Burlington.
“I was about to hang up my cleats after last year and then Fieldhouse found me and basically took care of everything. They called me a bunch but I told them I think I’m done,” he said.
But the Pirates persisted and Jeffery eventually signed up.
“I was thinking about maybe coming back to the Falls and thinking about maybe playing OUA (Ontario University Athletics),” he said. “I was leaning toward Guelph but I didn’t want to play baseball for Guelph. I was thinking maybe another year in the Falls and then call it quits but Fieldhouse said I should go to college and play ball.
“It worked out all right. They convinced me.”
Jeffery feels focusing on pitching makes it much easier to succeed on the mound.
“I would get a little more tired playing the infield too. I was always a corner guy (first and third) and would get lots of balls. Now I can just work on my craft,” he said. “My arm get a little tender here and there but now I get to focus on strengthening it rather than worry about defence and defence mechanics and pitching mechanics.
“I’ve learned a lot about my body too with the delivery. I don’t get as tired as easily. Before I could go a couple of innings and now I feel I am a little stronger.”
Jeffery, who was coached by Greg Carpenter, Chris Jeffery and Luke Phelan with the St. Catharines Cobras and Niagara Falls Falcons before moving to the EBLO, hasn’t had a chance to miss hitting yet with no organized baseball this summer thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everybody knows probably the most fun part of baseball is hitting, at least in my mind,” he said. “I don’t know if I miss hitting in games because I haven’t played any games yet because of COVID, but I bet I’ll miss it when we get going.”
Jeffery is looking forward to heading to Lourdes where he will study exercise science.
“They gave me a really good offer of four years of residence and a buffet style meal plan. It felt like home so I figured I could spend four years there,” he said.
For now, Jeffery is working out three times a week at Fieldhouse and hoping things work out for the fall season.
“I’m trying to hang in there for now,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure out if I can get across the border. I may have to quarantine there for two weeks before school starts and we start playing ball. I’m just kind of waiting now to hear something because I’m not sure what the plan is.”
Jeffrey was also a standout volleyball player at Sir Winston where he won a pair OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) silver medals and participated in track and field and badminton.
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