Citadel pitcher strikes it big
By Sarah Strickland, '09
Walking out to the pitcher’s mound to the chants of some 10,000 Japanese fans, Cadet Asher Wojciechowski was feeling the pressure. Only minutes before, Wojciechowski was sitting on the bench, watching the game, not expecting the opportunity to play.
The USA National Team was playing in Tsuruoka, Japan, on July 15 when Wojciechowski (wo-ja-how-ski) got his big break. While sitting in the dugout, Team USA pitching Coach Mike Kennedy approached Wojciechowski with the three words he’d been waiting to hear, “Start warming up.”
With only seven pitches to warm up, Wojciechowski took the pitcher’s mound for the ninth inning with a tough situation ahead of him.
The bases were loaded with no outs and the Japanese fans were going wild. Wojciechowski took the pitcher’s mound and took a deep breath. Team Japan was up 8 to 3, and though the fate of the game lay in Wojciechowski’s hands, he kept his cool. He struck out the next three Japanese hitters, ending the game.
Wojciechowski was selected to participate in the USA National Team trials because of his outstanding performance during the Southern Conference Tournament and was named to the USA National Team in late June. The team competed in several international-friendly games before traveling to Japan for the 37th annual USA vs. Japan Collegiate All-Star Challenge and then to British Columbia for the World Baseball Challenge.
“This was the most fun I have ever had playing baseball. Just traveling across the world to play these teams, and building new relationships with people across the country was a great experience,” said Wojciechowski.
A business major from Hilton Head, S.C., the Charlie Company cadet, known to his friends as “Wojo,” has been in love with the game for as long as he can remember. “I think I could say the word ‘ball’ before I could say the word ‘dad,’” he said.
The Citadel focuses on the development of principled leaders by emphasizing responsibility, self-confidence and service to others. Wojciechowski uses these principles to lead by example through good character, discipline, persistence and respect. “Everyone has a different style of leadership, and you need to learn that about other people. I personally like to lead by example through my work ethic. I work hard and give it my best. I encourage others to do the same.”
Now a junior, Wojciechowski admits attending The Citadel has been difficult at times, but does not regret his decision. “Being at The Citadel makes it harder, especially as a freshman. There’re so many things going on. You’re still working to get a starting job on the team while completing academics and military duties. There’s a lot more stress, but it makes you tougher all around.”
Wojciechowski’s experiences at The Citadel have taught him to balance the challenges in his life and face them with full confidence. The day-to-day responsibilities can be exhausting, but it hasn’t slowed Wojciechowski down one bit. “The Citadel has helped me become a mentally tough and more disciplined player.”
The only Southern Conference player to represent the USA National Team, Wojciechowski gained a lot of confidence through his experience and is excited for the coming Bulldog season, which kicks off in February.
“I think my selection to the USA National Team definitely brings more attention to The Citadel, but we still need to work hard to get where we want to be,” said Wojciechowski.
Team USA finished the summer with a 19-5 record and won the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, British Columbia, overcoming Germany in an 8 to 1 victory.