When redshirt-senior pitcher Steve Visnic came to Temple in Fall 2008, he had one goal: to be in the mix with former Owls’ coach Rob Valli’s pitching staff.
Now in his fifth season with Temple, Visnic stands as the all-time leader in pitching appearances for Temple after relieving redshirt-sophomore Zach Batchelor in Temple’s 13-12 win against Holy Cross on Sunday, Feb. 24. With 85 career appearances to date, Visnic passed former Owl Pete Moore who recorded 84 appearances from 1996-99.
However, Visnic’s road to breaking the record wasn’t always easy. Early on in his career, Visnic found himself struggling with a career-threatening arm injury and unsure if he could throw a baseball the same again.
“I ended up getting hurt my freshman year and having a little stumble in my rehab and that’s the reason I throw sidearm now. It was more comfortable for me,” Visnic said.
The not-so-typical arm slot of the 6 foot, 2 inch, Glenwood, Md., native has allowed him to be very successful at the collegiate level, coach Ryan Wheeler said. Wheeler went on to compare Visnic’s pitching style to that of former major league pitcher Jamie Moyer, stating that Visnic is crafty and knows how to use his pitches.
The comparison to Moyer also relates to Visnic’s fastball speed, as Wheeler said it is not anything that is going to blow you away.
“He is a two-pitch pitcher. Fastball and a curveball that has some lateral movement,” Owls’ pitching coach Brian Pugh said. “It is the nature of his delivery. He makes his fastball sink and he relies on it to be under bat speed. We like to bring in Steve because he throws hitters’ timing off as his fastball is not traveling faster than 70-71 mph. He is strictly a finesse guy and he relies on locating his pitches.”
For Wheeler and Pugh, it is easy to trust a player when he does not try to do more than he can. Understanding his role with Temple, Visnic has fallen into place with the new system inputted by Wheeler more than one year ago, Wheeler said.
“[Visnic] realizes what his strengths are and he stays within those,” Pugh said. “You don’t see him trying to do more than he is capable of. He knows what his game is and he always goes in there and does his job, regardless of whether it’s one hitter, one inning or two innings. He goes in and does his job and beyond that, he is ready to do it again the next day.”
For Visnic, choosing Temple was not a very tough decision. After only two Division I offers, Temple and Mount St. Mary’s, Visnic decided on Temple purely because of the size of the school.
“I went to high school with 900 kids, and Mount St. Mary’s was like going to high school all over again, so I wanted to go to as big of a school I could find,” Visnic said.[blockquote who=”Steve Visnic” what=”Redshirt-senior Pitcher”]I went to high school with 900, kids and Mount St. Mary’s was like going to high school all over again.[/blockquote]
One person who has been with Visnic during his entire tenure at Temple is redshirt-senior pitcher Dan Moller, who entered Temple alongside Visnic in Fall 2008.
“Steve and I are great, actually borderline best friends,” Moller said. “We have both been here since Fall 2008 and we have gone the whole way through.”
Originally a pitcher with an over-the-top delivery, Visnic has come to be not only a fixture in Temple’s bullpen, but a go-to man for Wheeler and the Owls in any situation, Pugh said.
“I think [Visnic] knows that he is going to be counted on in a variety of ways,” Wheeler said. “Sometimes we bring him in to get a game stopped and under control, sometimes we bring him in to set up for somebody that throws a little bit harder and sometimes we bring him in to actually close the game down. He has got to be very versatile and watch how the game unfolds and that’s how he prepares himself for that given day.”
As a redshirt-senior, Visnic is also relied upon by Wheeler to be a leader of the Temple squad lacking a true captain.
“Steve is a tremendous young man, and he just does a great job,” Wheeler said. “He always works hard and he is one of our leaders on this team. He is very mature and you can tell that he is no longer a young player. He just does a really good job of leading by example.”
Visnic is also known around the clubhouse as a funny guy, as well as somebody the players know they can go to. Moller said everyone on the team respects him and listens to what he has to say.
“You couldn’t ask for a better guy or a better teammate,” Pugh said. “He is demanding of his teammates, and he has a very high expectation for himself and for the guys around him, but he is a hall of fame person. That all is part of the recipe for success.”
As one of seven Temple seniors, Visnic said he enjoys his role as a leader on this team. His age, experience and knowledge of the game all factor in to what makes him a successful leader, Wheeler said.
“I have been here for a long time. I have been around the game a long time,” Visnic said. “There is not an A-10 school that I have not pitched against. I have pitched against a lot of big teams and I have been in a lot of pressure situations. I think just that experience, knowledge and that wisdom has helped me to lead younger guys in the right direction and has helped the younger guys relax. I try to be a good role model and lead by example.”
This season will be Visnic’s last with the Owls, and, despite a career-threatening injury his freshman year and a complete change in pitching style, Visnic will leave his mark in Temple’s record books.
“I never really had a specific goal career wise, just to be the best I could be,” Visnic said. “If it’s the end for me after these four years of college ball it is because I wasn’t good enough to play at the next level and not because I didn’t work hard enough. As long as I have worked as hard as I can to play at my highest ability, that’s all I can ask of myself.”
John Murrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JohnMurrow12.