Matthew Gretler is fearless when it comes to baseball.
It’s not surprising to hear about Bonney Lake High’s captain and star baseball player, who’s only entering his second season with the Panthers and already entrenched as the team leader. High expectations have fallen upon Gretler.
But he faces them without batting an eye.
Perhaps that’s to be expected of the sophomore a year after he hit .388 (19 hits in 64 at-bats) with seven extra-base hits, 20 runs scored and nine batted in. Gretler’s season ended with him being voted to the 3A South Puget Sound League all-league team at shortstop.
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The then-freshman accomplished all of it as one of the youngest players in the league.
I was always playing with older kids, and I wanted to show them that I can play with them (and) do anything to be (called) safe.
Yep, he has no fear.
Gretler was always the “little kid” growing up as he tailed his older brother, Michael, to one pickup game or another. If he wanted to stay, his game had to be bigger than himself.
“I was always playing with older kids, and I wanted to show them that I can play with them (and) do anything to be (called) safe,” he said. “Whether it was sliding on concrete or sliding in rocks, I would do it just to compete with them, and be able to hang around them.That helped me a lot.”
With wild and reckless abandon, Gretler would do whatever it took to get a hit in those days. It didn’t matter if it was a headfirst slide on concrete or making a diving play with the leather — he was going to make the play.
And as Gretler grew, so did his boldness.
Bonney Lake coach Mike Olson remembers when Michael Gretler first walked on to his field five years ago. Michael always had the talent to make the team, but circumstances forced Olson to make difficult decisions and use a team primarily composed of freshman.
“Having (Michael) for four years was great — he’s a special kind of person and talent,” Olson said. “And now I have Matt for another (two-plus) years. It’s special.”
Michael Gretler, Oregon State’s sophomore third baseman, was the centerpiece.
If I ever had questions, I would go to him and ask him what can I do to improve. He’s really good at explaining things.
Matt Gretler on his brother and Oregon State third baseman Michael Gretler
“If I ever had questions, I would go to him and ask him what can I do to improve. He’s really good at explaining things,” Matt said of his brother .
Coming into the 2015 season, Olson was giddy about his team’s potential. But one thing stood out during those tryouts. Or more to the point, one person: Matt Gretler.
“I usually don’t put a freshman on our varsity team — the last class was more do to circumstances than anything,” Olson admitted.
Gretler was the exception.
“He was too talented to not play,” Olson said. “I think he has as much, if not more potential, than Michael.”
Reaching that potential is something Gretler is not afraid to achieve.
“You got to stay humble. You got to be able to go out and know that you have to get done what you need to get done,” Gretler said.
Already this season, Gretler has found ways to improve. The sophomore has transitioned into a power bat as he’s launched three home runs, four doubles and a triple.
Gretler entered the week batting .425 (12 for 39) while driving in 14 runs and becoming what Olson believed he could be when he envisioned Gretler as Bonney Lake’s No. 3 hitter.
“(You can’t) worry about what everyone says. You just got to focus about that game,” Gretler said. “You have to check in and check out like that (and) put that behind you. I don’t think about last year at all. Just focus on what’s next and just keep moving up.”
There’s definitely no fear in this Panther.