Talented twins: Willett brothers putting on a show for Grand Junction’s baseball team
Step right up, and see the Tigers’ amazing Willett brothers.
Watch Andy and Charlie as they run with blazing speed, hit with titanic power and throw with pinpoint precision.
But any traveling sideshows will have to wait, because the juniors are putting on a show for the Grand Junction High School baseball team.
Fraternal twins, Andy and Charlie helped the Tigers jump out to a 5-1 record heading into Wednesday night’s game against Fruita Monument at Suplizio Field.
Grand Junction coach Kyle Rush said there isn’t much the 17-year old twins can’t do on the diamond.
Andy leads the team with a .435 batting average, has three triples and is yet to strike out in 28 at-bats.
“Andy’s a player that can hit four or five spot for us, or could leadoff and we’d be just fine,” Rush said. “He hits for average, hits for power, and has speed.”
Charlie’s hitting .261, and is an important piece of the Tigers’ lineup at the No. 2 spot.
“He’s a guy that makes things happen offensively,” Rush said. “Whether he bunts, hit and runs, anything, he can handle the ball well.”
The brothers are strong defensively as well. Andy plays center field and Charlie plays second base, so the two find themselves going after many of the same pop-ups in the shallow outfield.
“It’s nice to have him out in center field, because we have the communication on fly balls that will usually drop in,” Charlie Willett said. “We can get them, and know who should get the ball.”
Rush said the Willetts, in addition to shortstop Tim Gastineau, give the Tigers a lot of stability in the middle part of their defense.
“We like being strong up the middle,” Rush said. “Those two make us strong along with Gas in the middle.”
The Willetts took over their starting roles last season, moving in for departed seniors Bubba Higgins and Chris Kelly. Tigers catcher Aaron Berk said he knew they would be stepping into big shoes, but was confident they could play.
“It can be hard to find someone to fill those spots (center field and second base),” Berk said. “But I knew both of them would be phenomenal, and it’s been a good combo.”
So facts are facts, the Willetts can play. Always have been able to. But a big part of their maturation into versatile baseball players was having each other to help develop the love for baseball.
“We’ve always had someone to talk to about what’s happening on the field,” Charlie Willett said. “Whether that’s how our swing looks or someone to go to the cage with and hit.”
It’s the constant work that’s allowed Andy and Charlie to thrive not only on the baseball field, but also be key players on the Tigers’ football team. Not the biggest athletes on the field, the Willetts have made their athletic strides putting time into the weight room.
“Both work really hard in the weight room,” Rush said. “That’s what makes a big difference for them.”
Andy said the brothers can’t help but push each other when getting ready for the season.
“When it comes to offseason stuff, it can be not that fun if you have to do it by yourself,” Andy Willett said. “But when Charlie and I are home during the summer not doing anything, we’ll say why don’t we go work out.”
Both the Willetts are off to a strong junior season, which could set them up for an opportunity to play in college. Andy and Charlie have been on the same team since they first played Little League baseball, so when it comes to the next level, they’d like to stay together.
“If we could play together (in college) that would be awesome,” Andy Willett said. “But if there are opportunities where we can’t be together, it won’t be a limiting thing.”
But before they get to that point, the Willetts have two years left of high school baseball. Despite losing Geoff Baldwin off last year’s team, Andy thinks the Tigers are in a great position to make a run this season.
“We all lean on each other, and want to be the person to open up the game,” Andy Willett said. “We don’t rely on someone else because we can all do it.”