CU’s Venditte spells double trouble
By PAT DONOHUE
The statistics might identify him as a left-handed pitcher one inning and a right-handed pitcher the next. It isn’t a scorekeeper’s oversight. Rather, it’s an accurate testament to a Creighton pitcher who has moved from near the bottom of the pitching staff to close to the top.
Pat Venditte largely has been responsible for where he finds himself on the team, just like he was responsible for getting there in the first place.
“We didn’t actively recruit him,” coach Ed Servais said. “He actually pursued us and asked if he could have the opportunity to play here.
“We said that we would give him the opportunity, but we couldn’t make any promises other than that.”
Based on his statistics this season, it’s easy to see that Venditte didn’t take his opportunity for granted.
So far on the young season, Venditte has compiled a stingy 1.11 earned run average in just under 25 innings of work. He also has registered a team-leading 22 strikeouts, while giving up only four walks.
Although his numbers are quite impressive, they aren’t his most recognizable feature. Venditte is ambidextrous, which means he can use both arms with equal effectiveness. It is something one seldom sees in the game of baseball: a switch pitcher. This unique skill is something Venditte has been trying to hone since an early age.
“My dad started me when I was three,” Venditte said. “Ever since then, [I’ve] been working every day with both hands, just trying to develop the left-hand side because that was the less dominant hand.”
Throwing a baseball successfully with both hands would seem to be a difficult task, and it is. Venditte now has been trying to perfect the talent for almost 18 years.
Venditte has certainly progressed since coming to Creighton last year.
As a freshman, he played sparingly, making only five appearances on the mound and posting a 14.73 ERA. Despite the less-than-stellar numbers, Venditte knew this year could be a more successful campaign.
“This year, I knew I was going to get my opportunity,” Venditte said. “I knew if I didn’t take advantage of [the opportunity], it was going to be a season just like last year.
“Even now, each time I go out, it’s just to get another opportunity; that’s the way I have to look at it.”
Venditte’s work ethic has worked to his advantage. Coming out of high school, he was not a Division I recruiting target; instead, he was looked at primarily by Division II schools. He originally verbally committed to play at Missouri Western, which is a Division II school in St. Joseph, Mo.; but instead of heading south, he decided to take the opportunity offered by coach Servais and Creighton.
Since then, Venditte has worked hard to prove he can compete at the Division I level. In the summer, he competed in the Jayhawk League for the Wichita Twins. In addition to playing ball, he also lifted five days a week and ran every day.
His efforts are noted by his head coach.
“I cannot emphasize how much credit he deserves,” Servais said. “He is a self-made player. I wish the coaches could take credit for him, but they cannot; he deserves all the credit for making himself the player that he is.
“He’s a great team player. He’ll do whatever we ask him to do.”
Venditte’s talents also are recognized by opposing teams before he throws an official pitch in a game.
Servais said that while Venditte warms up between innings, the opposing teams will sometimes come to the front of the dugout to see this ambidextrous talent. The opposing teams want to see for themselves that a player can really throw with both arms.
Although Venditte can throw with both arms, he must use only one arm per batter. In Saturday’s victory over Bradley, Venditte struck out batters using both his right and left arms in the same inning. It was the second time in his young career that he accomplished the feat.
Still, in spite of all the attention, Servais is primarily impressed with Venditte’s dedication to the team.
“Pat has truly earned his opportunity,” Servais said. “He’s come from where he might have been the last man in our pitching staff last year to where, right now, he’s in the top six.
“It just shows you what a young person can do when he puts his mind to something. He’s a great example of what our program is about … he fits what we would like to see our players do during their experience here at Creighton.”