Wisher takes charge

Bryan Veginski
Kyle Wisher

Kyle Wisher has taken command of the Washington baseball program.

The coach moves up from the sophomore level, where he served four years beginning in 2005.

Wisher takes over for two-year head coach Kevin Brown, whose 54-24 record included a third-place state trophy in ’07.

Wisher is quite familiar with Panther baseball.

He played first base and pitched for Washington prior to graduating in 1994.

His father, Brian, was the Panther baseball coach from 1971 to ’88.

The younger Wisher got started here as the freshman coach for two seasons after directing the freshmen at Springfield.

“I’m very excited,” Wisher said Friday. “I can’t wait to get started.”

The Washington head baseball position is one Wisher has been interested in since he left for college.

“It’s been a goal of mine to come back some day and be the baseball coach,” said Wisher, who was awarded the post in August.

After graduating from WCHS, Wisher played fall baseball at Bradley University before competing at Illinois Central College.

He also has attended Lincoln Land Community College and the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Wisher said goals will remain high for the Panthers, who are back-to-back Mid-Illini Conference champions.

Washington desires a 20-win season and conference and regional titles.

With players returning such as Ben Worner, Marshall Escue and Alex Wilson, all of whom were first- or second-team all-M-I performers, the Panthers again line up as one of the area’s leading contenders.

“We have a good core of seniors back and a good group of juniors,” Wisher said.

With his previous background at Washington, plus the fact he will have already coached most of the players, Wisher is in a solid position for his first varsity endeavor.

“Coach Brown raised the level of expectations for the baseball program,” Wisher said. “It’s nice to be the hunted.”

Wisher is looking forward to the Panthers’ first night home game, April 15 vs. M-I baseball rival Limestone.

Wisher is hoping for a big crowd for the event, which will feature giveaways and a preliminary game with the Rockets. He is encouraging Washington Recreation Association participants to attend.

The lights were helped made possible with a donation by Brian Wisher.

Four other night games follow at home, plus two more at away or neutral sites.

Washington’s facility off Wilmor Road quickly is becoming one of the better ones around for baseball.

Former coach Mike Prina’s vision a few years back led to a deluxe press box.

With the lights now in place, memorial donations have paid for the construction of new dugouts targeted to be ready for the April 1 home opener vs. Springfield.

The Panthers are trying to make the most of their opportunities to practice outside for the March 28 debut, which are getting more frequent.

“It’s nice to get outside and get going,” Wisher said. “We’re ready to play some games.”

Wisher, who coaches sophomore football as well, reports solid numbers in the freshman through varsity levels.