Sports

Getting Vetters and Vetters all the time

A bumper sticker on Fred Vetters’ car reads, “Driver carries no cash, son plays select baseball.”

The proud father of former South Kitsap High School standout athletes Travis (2002) and Jacque (2000) Vetters can now change his bumper sticker to ‘driver carries cash, son and daughter earned college scholarships to play ball’.

While Travis concluded his freshman season for the University of Portland baseball team, Jacque — who hit a Narrows League fastpitch record 11 home runs her senior year — entered the spring unsure of her future after two years of success at Edmonds Community College.

Jacque didn’t have her Associate’s Degree yet and wanted it before transferring to a four-year college. Though she was already determined to concentrate on her studies last year, a car accident last December resulted in persistent back pain.

The timing of the accident may have come at the best time. Her only sniff from a Division I school came from Troy State University.

But she didn’t hear back from the school for over a week.

Any uncertainty Jacque had was put to rest this spring when the coach at Florida International University — a Division I school in Miami — watched her in a workout.

“I knew this coach (Kim Gwydir) from Florida International was in the stands to watch me play,” Jacque said. “I took two (home runs) out and threw some bullets (from centerfield) to third and second.”

Jacque said she was just out there having fun, and even forgot she was being scouted.

“The coach asked if I had a few minutes to talk,” Jacque said. “She said, ‘We’ll give you everything we have left.’ ”

That equated to nearly a full-ride scholarship, other than some room and board expenses.

Jacque admits the transition to Florida’s heat and humidity will take some getting used to, but her brother Travis — speaking from experience — noted how big a transition it is playing Division I ball.

While calling his own freshman year a tough transition, Travis still managed to hit .286 with 15 RBI on a bum knee.

He twisted his knee early in the season but played through pain that was diagnosed after the season as torn cartilage.

He underwent successful surgery two months ago and credits SK athletic trainer Pat Olsen for speeding up his recovery time.

“Mr. Olsen has done such a great job on me,” Travis said. “I was thinking I’d be out for fall ball, but I’m definitely going to be ready for fall ball now.”

Despite playing with an injury, Travis — being his own harshest critic — didn’t think he had that great of a season.

“People were telling me that I was doing good,” he said. “But, personally, I know I could do a lot better.”

Travis’ determination is definitely hereditary.

Jacque is going into a situation at FIU where hard work and no mercy will determine her playing time, especially with seven outfielders vying for three starting spots.

“I’m excited to go down because I hear there are some girls that don’t like me down there because I am the only transfer,” Jacque said. “I was also a late transfer, so they’re thinking, ‘What does she got that we don’t got?’ I’m going to show them what I got and I’m going to get that position.”

Jacque and Travis said their attitudes are something that came at an early age and clearly helped pave the way to playing college ball.

“We knew at an early age we’d play college ball because of the way we played,” Jacque said. “We went out with our emotions. When we messed up, we’d get mad while other kids were like, ‘Oh well.’ ”

While both have had their share of coaches, they call their father the best — if not most influential — coach they’ve had.

“I think my best coach was my father,” Jacque said. “I was blessed with an arm, but my dad had to tame it.”

Travis said he’s had good coaching throughout his life, and Portland coach Chris Sperry is no exception. When Travis opened his freshman year, Sperry changed his batting stance to get more out of his lower body.

“I’ve always been an upper body hitter,” he said, “but when you’re hitting with your legs and hips and see the ball jump off your bat...it was definitely beneficial to change.”

The journey to the change wasn’t a smooth ride though.

“I went from a swing I’ve always done to one totally different,” Travis said. “I had all this competition and I was struggling so I went back to what was comfortable.”

Travis said it didn’t last long.

“The coaching staff said, ‘You’re ruining what we’ve been working on,’ ” Travis said.

Being injury0free for fall ball will be a big step for Travis, who said it will be an opportunity to practice his new swing and stay with it when the season starts in the spring.”

The siblings haven’t had much of an opportunity to see each other play since they entered the college world, but that hasn’t deterred their relationship.

“As we’ve gotten older we’ve gotten a lot closer,” Travis said.

“We always call each other to see what’s going on or just to say hi,” Jacque said.

Of course when they’re in-season, the conversation will be consumed by talk about their passion, which links them all the way back to their childhood when they were throwing rocks to see who threw the furthest.

Jacque jokes that issue is still debatable today.

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