Oakville’s Pressler displays winning attitude on mound

Matt Pressler

Matt Pressler

By STEPHEN GLOVER

A high school athlete’s career oftentimes can be defined through a handful of memorable moments.

For Oakville Senior High’s Matt Pressler, that defining moment came during the senior’s final game of the 2006 season with the Tigers.

Pressler, a starting pitcher with the Tigers, battled Vianney for 6 2⁄3 innings in a 5-4 loss in 10 innings at the District 3 championship game.

What defined the hurler’s career at Oakville was the fact that he pitched the first 5 1⁄3 innings and the final 1 1⁄3 innings as teammate Pat Doyle relieved Pressler for 22⁄3 innings.

“You talk about a guy with guts, Matt played like it was the last high school game of his career,” Oakville head coach Rich Sturm told the Call. “He wanted the ball and wanted to win the game for us.”

In those 6 2⁄3 innings pitched for the Tigers, Pressler gave up five runs on 11 hits as he walked four and struck out four in his fourth loss of the 2006 campaign. He finished the season with a 4-4 record and a 3.57 earned run average.

“Vianney was one of the best games that I’ve thrown,” Pressler said. “It was a good team effort and I don’t regret it (the loss) one bit.”

But the Oakville head coach believes that Pressler’s contributions to the team went far beyond his performances on the mound.

“First and foremost, the thing we needed the most from Matt this year was senior leadership,” Sturm said. “He has a great attitude and a great work ethic and served as a great example for the kids when he was on the mound or was on the bench.”

The Tigers struggled early in the 2006 season as they dropped their home opener to Webster Groves 7-6. Pressler gave up five runs in the top of the seventh inning, which gave the Statesmen the come-from-behind victory.

“When we first started the season, we weren’t together as a team,” Pressler said. “But for the most part, we picked things up and got things going.”

Oakville went on to lose four of the first five games of the season, which actually solidified the team, according to Sturm.

“The first five games really solidified our team and made us what we were at the end of the season,” Sturm explained. “As the season went on, Matt continued to get stronger and stronger and eventually he began to dominate some teams.”

Pressler dominated Webster Groves later in the season, giving up two runs on four hits in seven innings when the Tigers pounced on the Statesmen 6-2. He also struck out four and walked none in one of his most commanding wins of the year.

It was performances like the Vianney and Webster Groves games that began to grab the attention of coaches in the Suburban West Conference. Just last week, Pressler’s hard work on the mound was recognized as he was named Second Team All-Conference.

“It really shows the level of respect he gained from other coaches in the conference,” Sturm said.

Pressler plans to attend the University of Missouri this fall and major in accounting after carrying a 3.9 grade-point average at Oakville. But as far as baseball goes, he’s still undecided if he wants to wear the black and gold at Mizzou.

“I really don’t know if I’ll try out for them or not,” Pressler said. “It’s still an option.”