UVU catcher slides into Wolverine lineup with ease

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Zac Willis is quickly finding his place at UVU

Every sport has their signal-caller between the lines. In football it’s the quarterback, basketball the point guard. In baseball it’s the masked man behind home plate, the catcher. In his first season with the Wolverines, junior catcher Zac Willis is already making his presence felt on both sides of the ball.

Willis previously spent two seasons with the Salt Lake Community College Bruins where he batted .335 and knocked 15 doubles. Willis helped the Bruins to a 37-25 record and an appearance in the NJCAA District playoffs during his sophomore year. He also helped the Bruins reach the NJCAA College World Series as a freshman.

For some athletes, transitioning from the junior college ranks to Division I might be difficult. For Willis, it wasn’t as difficult as he thought it would be.

“I don’t know if it’s too much different,” said Willis. “SLCC has a really good conference, so I saw really good competition there, but I think I was expecting a bigger change than what there is. I would say you see better pitching more consistently. Like, we went up to Washington [State] and three of the four starters were throwing 95 [mph]. We never saw that at SLCC.”

UVU catcher Zac Willis comes into score after hitting a two-run home run over Minnesota on March 19. Photo by Linsey McLain

UVU catcher Zac Willis comes into score after hitting a two-run home run over Minnesota on March 19. Photo by Linsey McCLain

At UVU, Willis leads the five catchers on the roster with a .306 batting average, four doubles, and two home runs through 22 games. Despite his ability to hit the long ball, Willis sees his ability to get on base as his greatest asset as a hitter.

“I’ve never been known as a home run guy,” Willis said. “But I think it’s more about on-base percentage and batting average, because you can’t score runs if you don’t get people on base. So I’m definitely more of an average and on-base percentage type of guy.”

Growing up as a catcher, Willis tried to watch big-league catchers and learn how they played the game behind the plate.

“I like watching how each catcher catches differently and how they make it work for themselves in different ways and kind of compare what I do to what they do and how I can learn from them and maybe implement some things,” said Willis.

Willis understands what it takes to be a leader at UVU and take them in the right direction of reaching their goal of winning a WAC Championship.

“Just show up every single day, being consistent with I what do, not trying to do too much,” Willis said. “Just showing up with the right attitude every day and what I can do to make the team better.”