Senior Jack Swiney signs to play Division I baseball

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Scott Schwartz

Center fielder Jack Swiney hauls in a fly ball for the out. In addition to a 1.000 fielding percentage, Swiney led Parkway West with a team-high mark in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, runs batted in and extra-base hits his junior year. “It’s a lot of hard work to get where you want to be if you want to play at the next level,” Swiney said. “You’ve got to sacrifice a lot of your time and commit to the process.”

In the realm of high school sports, few days on the calendar are considered as significant as signing day. On Nov. 8, four NCAA-bound Longhorns formally put pen to paper as their athletic careers leapt beyond the high school level. Stationed at a cafeteria table was senior outfielder Jack Swiney, who, donning a Western Kentucky hoodie and baseball cap, became the Division I program’s newest signee.

Swiney, who also played basketball and soccer as a junior in addition to baseball, drew attention from college coaches and recruiters after posting a .440/.512/.760 slash line last season.

“I sent out a lot of emails during the summer so coaches would come watch me play,” Swiney said. “[Western Kentucky’s coach] was one of the coaches who responded and texted and called me. He came out and watched me play in Indiana and I hit a few doubles.”

Swiney says he is spending his senior year focusing exclusively on baseball to help him better prepare for tougher Division I competition next season. Head coach Tony McNabb helped Swiney seize opportunities to showcase his talents in front of college scouts.

“There was a lot of interest in him from throughout the country. One of the things that I encouraged him to do was get involved in a summer program where he would be traveling to play in a network where he was going to be scouted by such colleges as Western Kentucky,” McNabb said. “He is where he is because of him and I was just a small supportive role in it. He was easy to find [because of] the way he plays and the way he carries himself. The word gets around.”

McNabb called Swiney a “five-tool player,” but both the player and the coach agreed that excelling in the mental side of college baseball will be an immediate challenge from day one.

“The biggest challenge for him and anyone at that level is the mental part of dealing with the variety of pitches, the strategy behind pitches to get [a batter] out. Dealing with the pitching of guys who have experience already at the Division I level who might be 22 or 23 years old,” McNabb said. “But he shows a lot of signs of having the mental ability and the mental capacity along with the physical skills to back it up. If he just focuses on who he is, he’ll have a lot of success.”

Swiney credits his father Edward Swiney, who played college baseball at the University of Richmond, with introducing him to the game.

“My dad [played college baseball], so I was hoping I could follow in his footsteps. That was my dream,” Swiney said. “My dad is the one who got me into baseball and he’s been working with me since I was five years old.”

Swiney has amassed numerous on-field accomplishments, the crown jewel of his career being a four-hit, nine-RBI outburst in a 15-9 victory over St. Charles on March 24, which was capped off by a grand slam. In spite of all these achievements, however, McNabb feels Swiney has improved the most without a bat or a glove in his hand.

“He’s grown as a leader, which is great for our program,” McNabb said. “He showed up and really led by example immediately in how he went about his business. The way he’s grown as a leader by setting the bar high for himself, and he sets that bar for the whole team. Everyone looks to him and I think they want to play up to his expectations.”