New Castle News

Lincoln

May 16, 2012

Athlete of the Week: Ellwood City’s Greg Lynn

NEW CASTLE — Commencement could be an interesting day for Ellwood City Lincoln High’s Greg Lynn — and not for the obvious reasons.

Graduation is a big deal for almost every high school student, as well as parents, relatives and friends. That’s exactly why Lynn could be in for long day.

The senior second baseman and a few of his friends on the baseball team decided to shave mohawks into their heads and dye them blue to try and change Ellwood City’s luck against rival Riverside.

It worked. The Wolverines beat Riverside, 13-3, last Monday, giving them a share of the WPIAL Section 5-AA title, a distinction they haven’t held since 2002. The victory also ended a 22-inning scoreless streak against the Panthers and helped Ellwood (18-2) earn the No. 1 seed for the Class AA playoffs, which start today for the Wolverines.

Lost in the excitement was Lynn’s pledge to not shave the hair ’do until Ellwood loses, which he hopes isn’t anytime soon.

“Graduation’s here in a little bit, but if we’re still winning, I’m keeping it,” he said with a laugh. “If not, I’m shaving it off and I’ll just go with the short hair.”

Blue or blond, short or long, Lynn hasn’t needed much luck this year.

He’s currently batting .424, leads the team in hits (28), runs (24), RBIs (18), triples (3) and is second in doubles (6) and stolen bases (9). He showed off his skills against Riverside, going 4 for 4 with a stolen base, three runs and four RBIs. The performance earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.

It’s no surprise to Ellwood coach Jeff Fotia that such accolades are coming Lynn’s way. He said the three-year starter excels in nearly all phases of the game. He can hit for average and power; he plays great defense; he can steal bases and he has a strong arm. Such ability didn’t come by accident. Fotia said Lynn is one of the hardest workers on the team and plays baseball year ’round to stay sharp.

“All aspects of his game are pretty solid,” Fotia said. “He’s got good hands, he can hit the ball, he can hit for power. If you bobble it, he’s going to beat it out. If he hits a base hit and you bobble it, he’ll take two. He’s a pressure player. And all of our guys really do that. They’re all looking to take another one, but he’s exceptional at it.”

He’s a pretty slick fielder, too.

Lynn generally plays second base, but he’s also able to move over to shortstop without missing a beat. Former Ellwood head coach Vic Sharek, now an assistant for Fotia, said Lynn takes countless ground balls every day to prepare for the different scenarios. Sharek said Lynn doesn’t just snare routine grounders, either. He makes sure to work on all areas of the positions.

“I think that’s why he’s as good as he is, because he works real hard on his back hands and his glove side, so he’s really ranging at that position when he’s getting his work,” Sharek said. “And because of that, it’s made him better.

“There’s no thinking about it when he plays. He just reacts. He’s worked and he’s got himself to that point. That’s why he’s getting the dividends he is, through hard work.”

It all came together at the right time for Lynn, who said he’s heavily considering continuing his career at Thiel College in the fall. Years of experience, along with an offseason spent working on his game with his dad, Dave, allowed him to fix the faults he had in the past, such as hitting a curveball and quickly turning a double play. Then he hit the weight room, so he had the strength he needed to hit for power.

“I was just getting myself ready,” he said. “Me and my dad come out here pretty much every off day we have in the high school season, and we hit the weights. We practice almost every day. He’s a big part of it.”

The added strength and a healthy relationship with his dad might help if the Wolverines keep winning because Lynn is going to have to deal with Stacey, his mom, who’s not exactly a fan of the new haircut.

“My mom wanted to kill me,” joked Lynn of when she saw the blue streak in his head. “My dad just looked at me and laughed, but my mom was like, ‘You’re shaving that off once you lose.’ I told we’re not losing, so it looks like it’s staying on for a while.”

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