Not being a prototypical catcher hasn’t stopped Franklin senior Alec MacLennan from setting new standards of durability.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound MacLennan is a four-year starter behind the plate who could conceivably play in 100 or more Grizzly Cubs games by the time his career is over.
“Knock on wood, Alec has been our iron man,” Grizzly Cubs coach Ryan Feyerabend said. “We kind of take him for granted, but he’s been a brick wall back there for us.”
Feyerabend raves about MacLennan’s love of the game, which has been there ever since the senior started playing baseball as a 6-year-old.
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“Everybody loves a nice 85-degree day,” MacLennan said after a recent practice in which temperatures were in the 30s. “But going through this stuff with your teammates is awesome. Many people probably don’t agree, but I’m a little different about stuff like that.
“I look at it as fun and playing a kid’s game. I just try to play every pitch with everything I’ve got.”
MacLennan has caught approximately 99 percent of the innings since the start of Franklin’s 2015 season, according to his coach. No easy task considering physical demands of the position such as constant crouching and wearing 10 pounds of protective equipment.
As a freshman, MacLennan, an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter than he is today, hit .214. Counted on primarily for his defensive skills more so than to produce runs, he’s since worked hard in the Franklin weight room to add power to his swings as the third hitter in the Cubs’ order.
His numbers have gradually increased; MacLennan batted .324 as a junior with five doubles and four home runs, and he clubbed a double and a triple in a Johnson County Baseball Tournament win against Whiteland earlier this month.
“Especially as a freshman and sophomore, we needed his skills behind the plate. Any production we got from him offensively was a blessing,” Feyerabend said. “This season we have a younger kid (sophomore Nathaniel Whetstine) who could give Alec’s legs a break.
“(MacLennan) can be used as a third baseman for a few innings and even DH. Other than maybe center field, I could probably use him anywhere else.”
Including throwing strikes on occasion as opposed to catching them.
MacLennan didn’t pitch his first three seasons at Franklin, but he has made three appearances and worked four innings on the hill in the Cubs’ first seven games this season.
MacLennan credits playing football his entire high school career and wrestling as a freshman and sophomore for helping develop the toughness he brings to the baseball diamond.
A starting safety for Franklin on the gridiron in the fall, MacLennan produced 34 tackles and an interception last season. Prior to his junior year, MacLennan made the difficult decision to give up wrestling so that he could spend his winters focusing on baseball.
His work gaining strength and improving his catching and hitting skills have made it possible for MacLennan to play at the next level. He signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Judson University, an NAIA program in Elgin, Illinois.
MacLennan, who plans to major in either business or exercise science, wasn’t recruited by Eagles coach Chad Gassman to play some other position. He’ll stay behind the plate, right where he belongs.
Once a catcher, always a catcher.
Alec MacLennan’s year-by-year improvement at the plate: