Baseball: Brad Wood a two-way force for St. Laurence
By Pat Disabato email@example.com April 22, 2014 8:44PM
Brad Wood, of St. Laurence | File photo
Updated: May 24, 2014 6:34AM
Growing up, Brad Wood’s first love was wrestling.
So much, in fact, the Orland Park resident intended to focus on pinning opponents, not pounding baseballs in high school.
However, a knee injury suffered while playing football affected his wrestling, just as his love for baseball began to grow stronger.
“I wrestled and played football and baseball my freshman year,” Wood said. “But I had some problems with my knee. So I gave up wrestling and football and concentrated more on baseball.”
That wasn’t a complete surprise, considering Wood’s brother, Kyle, now a sophomore at Purdue, is regarded as one of the best to have ever donned a St. Laurence baseball uniform.
Kyle Wood was a two-way force, with the ability to dominate opponents on the mound and at the plate.
Trying to live up to an older brother’s lofty standards might intimidate some younger siblings. Not Brad Wood, a 5-foot-7, 160-pound two-way dynamo in his own regard.
“I wasn’t worried about filling my brother’s footsteps,” Wood said. “I don’t hit homers like he did.”
Wood stars at shortstop and on the mound at St. Laurence. A three-year varsity starter, he’s the table-setter on offense and a steadying force in the infield and on the mound. He’s hitting .404 with six doubles, two triples, one homer, 12 RBI, 18 runs and is 9-for-9 stealing bases. On the mound, he’s 3-1 with one save and a 1.96 ERA. He’s struck out 34 in just 21 innings.
“The biggest thing with Brad is his attitude,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “He’s not afraid of anything. I don’t know if we have a player who hits the best pitching like he does. Pitching-wise, he just finds a way to get kids out. The ball explodes out of his hand.”
Wood loves to play a position and pitch. When it came time to select a college, he made certain he would receive an opportunity to do both. Northern Illinois offered him that chance, and he committed to the DeKalb school.
At 5-7, Wood doesn’t fit the mold of a D-I athlete. However, he never let a perceived lack of height interfere with his dream of playing at the next level.
“I’ve always been smaller,” he said. “I never thought size was a factor. I kind of like being short. It puts a chip on your shoulder. I like doing things people don’t expect because of my size.”
The Vikings are eager to defend their Catholic Blue championship this season. A home date Saturday against Providence will be the first of many tests.
With seven returning starters back from 2013 and a deep pitching staff, St. Laurence is in position to garner more than conference bragging rights. An extended playoff run would be an ideal way for Wood and a group of talented seniors to end their prep careers.
“I would like to take the Blue again,” Wood said. “We won it last year and we have the same team. We’re not thinking about the playoffs right now. We just have to go out and play our game. We can’t panic or try to do too much.”