Parkway North’s Jacob Abell has “stolen” his way into the Vikings’ baseball record books.
Abell, a senior center fielder, broke the single-season stolen base record in a year with 29 thefts.
This season, Abell set the school record for stolen bases.
“I was so excited and thrilled that I broke the record, when [head coach Mark Reeder] told me, I couldn’t stop smiling I was so happy,” Abell said. “I was also thinking about the future record because it’s only the beginning of the year so I can’t wait to see how much I increase the new record.”
Andrew Jones broke the record last year as a senior with 53 stolen bases. The previous record of 39 stood for 24 years at Parkway North. It was held by Kevin Lehrer.
“I am thrilled he has the record. Jacob is the perfect high school athlete,” Reeder said. “He competes in multiple sports and he is a great student that is well-liked by staff and his peers. He will finish the year with a lot more and that will be a record that will probably stand at our school for a long time.”
Abell and Jones, whose record Abell broke, are friends.
“I do know Andrew really well. He was my teammate for the past two years on varsity and I also played football with him, so we were really good friends,” Abell said. “His reaction was normal happy for me, he set the record last year and knew that I wasn’t far behind him, so he knew I would be able to break it. He also was a great competitive friend and told me last year that I better break that record. Always great support from him.”
Abell is a three-year starter for the Vikings. He was named a first-team all-Suburban XII Conference outfielder for both of those years. He played right field.
Reeder moved Abell to center this spring.
“He is one of the better outfielders we have in the history of our school,” Reeder said. “He has great range in the outfield and his instincts allow him to get to a lot of balls.”
Abell hits in the leadoff position. He’s held that spot since he began starting as a sophomore.
He worked hard to become the leadoff hitter, said Reeder.
“He has been our leadoff hitter since the first game of his sophomore year. He earned that through preseason work and never gave the spot up,” Reeder said. “He has great speed and is very disciplined at the plate.”
It’s a job Reeder likes.
“I do enjoy leadoff because it’s an amazing feeling to start off a game and spark the team with a hit,” Abell said. “What makes me a good leadoff hitter is that I am able to work the count. I’m able to draw out the count and make the pitcher keep throwing pitches, and then still being able to make a hit and get on.”
He’s also fast on the basepaths. Abell knows it’s a great weapon and he uses it.
“My main strength would have to be my speed. It helps for both defense and offense,” Abell said. “On defense, I am able to track down balls that would normally be gap hits. It also helps that I’m good at reading fly balls. On offense, the speed would be my greatest strength in allowing me to beat out ground balls and stealing bases.”
And his ability to steals bases has etched his name in the Parkway North record book.
Going into the season, Abell said he knew he would be able to break the record. He accomplished the feat in a recent game against Windsor.
“It was the seventh inning and I didn’t actually know I was two steals away from breaking the record,” Abell said. “When I got on first, coach [Mike] Bunton told me on first pitch ‘you’re stealing second and then third.’ So, on the first pitch, I stole second and then the following pitch I stole third. As coach Reeder was high-fiving me for the steals, he said, ‘Congratulations, you just broke the stolen base record,’ and shook my hand. And I was so excited.”
Abell got a souvenir as well.
“Coach Reeder … gave me the base I stole to break the record,” Abell said.
Reeder noted Abell is a team player.
“Jacob knew going in [this season] he had a great chance to break [the record],” Reeder said. “He is a humble kid. It was never a focus for him, though.
“In our game vs. Windsor, he stole second and third base on consecutive pitches. When he got to third base, I told him he had just broken the record. Typical Jacob, he smiled and said, ‘That’s awesome. Are we going on a ground ball or making sure it gets through?’
“We told the team after the game and all the guys were excited for him. Jacob is the ultimate team guy and his teammates know that and they were probably more excited than he was,” Reeder said.
Abell also played football for the Vikings and coach Bob Bunton. He was on the varsity for three years as a wide receiver and defensive back.
Last fall, he received academic all-state recognition as a defensive back.
“Jacob’s greatest strength on the football field was his speed and hands,” Bob Bunton said. “A very talented and reliable player. Jacob was an example of how a teammate should be. He led by example.”
As good as he is in football, Bunton said, Abell is also a huge asset to the Vikings’ baseball squad.
“Jacob sets the table for the baseball team,” Bunton said. “I really believe as he goes, our baseball team goes. He is one of the best defensive center fielders we have ever had at North. Jacob is just a natural athlete.”
As far as this spring season goes, Abell is doing well.
“I expect to just have fun my senior year and enjoy my last high school season with my teammates.”
Reeder is hoping for a big year out of Abell.
“He sets the tone for us offensively and, when he is on base, he puts a lot of pressure on the other team. He has high expectations for himself and is always striving to be the best he can be,” Reeder said.
Bunton has enjoyed coaching Abell in his career.
“One of my all-time favorites to coach,” Bunton said. “Jacob is smart, has a real positive demeanor about him and is from a great family. Just an ideal kid to be around.”
Abell is “undecided right now” if he wants to play college baseball or not.
“I will be attending Hawaii Pacific University and I will either try and walk-on there or I actually was offered a scholarship to play eSports there,” Abell said. “I’m still weighing my options.”
Abell said his eSPorts – which is competitive gaming – scholarship is to play on the college League of Legends Team. League of Legends is a 5v5 computer game, one of the most popular eSports games.
But, for now, he is in no rush to finish his time with the Vikings.
“I can’t believe my high school career is almost over,” Abell said. “The four years went by incredibly fast. I loved every minute of my career with my team. If I was able to do it all again from the beginning, I wouldn’t change a thing.
“I would like to say special thanks to my dad for teaching me how to play baseball when I was little and always supporting me through my whole baseball career. And my amazing teammates throughout the years. [I] couldn’t have had any better friends.”