2024, Varsity Baseball | June 13, 2024

Lake Central’s Victor Villegas is a vital piece for the state-bound Indians

nwitimes.com – Grace Opinker

ST. JOHN — Lake Central sophomore Victor Villegas is a natural shortstop, but if head coach Mike Swartzentruber needs him elsewhere in the infield, Villegas is always up for the task.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity coach has given me, that he believes in me,” Villegas said.

The first-year varsity member played on JV last season. After watching the Indians’ varsity squad compete, he wanted the coaching staff to know they could trust him on the field and in the lineup whenever his name was called.

Heading into this season, Swartzentruber didn’t think Villegas required anymore time on JV. 

“I thought he proved as a freshman he was ready for the next step,” he said. “Most guys in our program don’t come up until they’re juniors. That’s really a testament to him on how much I think of him, and how much talent he has.”

Though Villegas isn’t a routine starter for the Indians, Swartzentruber said he’s entered every game this season whether it’s to play defense, pinch run or hit.

While pinch running, Villegas scored a vital run for LC during the semistate semifinal last weekend. He showed up for his team again during the championship game Saturday evening as a pinch hitter with one RBI. 

“He’s a very useful piece to what we’re doing,” Swartzentruber said.

One of Villegas’ most memorable moments his season was against Valparaiso when he made a diving play to stop a ball from going in between the first and second base gap. Villegas stopped the grounder, got to his knees and tossed the ball to Blake Sivak to get the out at first. 

Villegas said it’s thanks to his father and grandfather that he’s so passionate about baseball today. Growing up he recalled watching MLB with his grandpa, an avid Yankees fan.

His dad grew up on the East Coast as a Mets fan. Villegas, who followed in his dad’s footsteps as a New York fan, said he’s grateful for all the time him and his father have spent together through baseball.

“He’s put a lot of time, money and effort to be with me. He works a job too so he has his own life,” Villegas said. “To be able to spend time with me is like the best thing ever.”

The extra time Villegas has spent fielding, hitting and weightlifting has paid off as he prepares to help LC earn the Class 4A state title this weekend. The Indians (24-9) will play Mooresville (32-3) at 7 p.m. Central Saturday at Victory Field in Indianapolis. 

Villegas said it’s important to view the upcoming matchup as just another game. 

“There’s a bigger prize at the end, but we need to go in there calm and not get too amped up in the moment,” he said. “When we go down there, we’re going to knock that door down.”

More Headlines

tobias - draft
Milwaukee Brewers draft Lake Central pitcher Griffin Tobias
The Times 2024 Player of the Year: Griffin Tobias will go down at one of LC’s most decorated athletes
Meet The Times 2024 All-Area baseball teams
The Times 2024 Coach of the Year: Mike Swartzentruber is ‘blessed’ to coach talented players
Griffin Tobias, ‘super strong’ for Lake Central in playoffs, is the 2024 Post-Tribune Baseball Player of the Year
Introducing the 2024 Post-Tribune Baseball All-Area Team
semi-state champs 2024
Weight lifted as Lake Central punches ticket to state