Twinsburg baseball coach Donald R. Jones could tell that Jalen Washington needed a break around this time last year.
Washington led the Tigers in the fall as the quarterback in football and in the winter as the point guard in basketball. He was ready to rest when spring came.
“He came out and made our team last year as a junior,” Jones said. “He started for me as a sophomore. He just decided to step outside for awhile. He had been going so many seasons in a row. He just stepped aside and played during the summer. Then he had the year he has had in football and basketball this school year.”
Washington guided this year’s football and basketball teams to winning seasons as a catalyst on both teams, and he intends to do the same with the baseball team before he heads off to Ohio State University.
OSU recruited Washington, 18, to play baseball as a preferred walk-on, even though he did not play for his high school team last season.
“I got Ohio State’s attention first at a showcase down in Cincinnati,” Washington said. “After that my summer coaches, Paul Brownlee and Craig Opalich, began to talk with them a lot more. I really caught their attention down in Columbus at the Buckeye Elite Tournament.”
Washington played as an outfielder, infielder and pitcher for the Tigers as a sophomore. The Buckeyes want him to play another position.
“He is actually being recruited as a catcher for Ohio State,” Jones said. “He caught when he was younger, but he hasn’t consistently done it since sixth or seventh grade. He caught a little over the summer for his summer team. They saw him as a catcher, and that got the ball rolling.”
Washington, 6-foot, 175 pounds, has earned three letters in football, three letters in basketball and after this season will have earned a second letter in baseball. He started two years for football coach Joe Schiavone and played a lot as a sophomore, displaying a dynamic ability to pass and to run the ball. He started three years in basketball for coach Bob Pacsi and consistently gave opponents fits with his scoring, passing and defense.
“We are happy to have him back and things are going well,” said Jones, who is in his 25th season as Twinsburg baseball coach. “He is just one of those kids that is a born leader. He is one of those kids that young men follow. We are blessed to have several guys in our program who are like that.”
Washington, who has a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average, said he started playing basketball at age 4 and baseball at 5. Playing football for him started in middle school. He found success in all three sports.
“What a competitor,” Jones said. “He is just an unbelievable competitor and a great kid. He is one of the nicest kids you will be around. I am glad things are working out for him. I think things will work out for him at Ohio State. They are excited about him.”
Jalen’s parents, Barbara and Edward Washington, also were successful athletes and graduated from Shaker Heights and Cleveland St. Joseph, respectively. Edward played for Ohio University and earned All-Mid-American Conference honors.
Jalen also has two athletic brothers, Darius (21) and Devonte (15). Darius was a three-sport athlete at Twinsburg and is a junior baseball player at the University of Akron.
Washington was recruited in all three sports he plays, but mainly in baseball and football where Division I colleges came calling.
OSU, OU and Eastern Michigan recruited him in baseball. Wisconsin, Eastern Michigan, Boston College, Toledo and Lafayette were some of the schools that showed interest in football. Several Division II and III schools expressed interest in basketball.
Washington decided baseball was the path to take for college.
“As a baseball player, I feel that some of my strengths include being a leader, having quick hands and always striving for perfection on the diamond,” Washington said.
Washington, who enjoys math, provides versatility for Jones. He will play shortstop, third base, outfield and catcher.
“Jalen has quick wrists in the box, and his work ethic is impressive,” Jones said. “Anything you ask him to do he does. He works really hard. He is a very quick kid who gets good jumps on the ball when he is playing in the outfield, and he has smooth hands when he plays in the infield. The best thing about him is his competitive drive. He just absolutely hates to lose.”
Jones said the Tigers have four returning starters; senior catcher/infielder/outfielder Cooper Rea, senior shortstop/right-handed pitcher Nick Jaworski and senior outfielders Brady Haba and Nick Medwetz.
“As a team, some of the goals are to win the NOC and make it to state,” Washington said. “Some individual goals for me are to limit my errors, which I think everyone shares that goal, and lead the team in batting average.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.