The website D3baseball.com twice selected Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Cal Aldridge as its All-America first-team third baseman.
So it made perfect sense that when the site released its All-Decade team for the 2010s last week, Aldridge was on that list as well. The 2015 Prairie Ridge graduate, Whitewater’s career hits and home runs leader, was put on the team as designated hitter.
“I got a text from one of my former assistant coaches at Whitewater, Justin Bach, congratulating me,” Aldridge said. “I was a little unsure of what it was, then Whitewater baseball sent it out the next morning. It was a pretty cool feeling.
“It’s not just a thing for me. I’ve been helped along the way so many times, by coach [Glen] Pecoraro at Prairie Ridge and all the coaches at UW-Whitewater who helped me get into such a good position to be successful. I couldn’t be more grateful for all that. I’ve had so much help along the way that it’s incredible. It’s not just me that gets this, it’s all those guys.”
Aldridge said his father, Jeff, the athletic director at Crystal Lake Central, where he formerly coached baseball, was one of his best coaches while growing up. He thanked Pecoraro, Palatine coach Paul Belo and Whitewater head coach John Vodenlich, along with assistants Shaun Wegner and Steve Bartlein, for their help.
“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Pecoraro said. “He’s so much fun to be around. He was such a great teammate. Every time I watched him play baseball, he had a smile on his face. He played the game with such joy. You wish all kids enjoyed the game as much as Cal. And he worked his tail off as a player to be as good as he could.”
Aldridge played third base on Prairie Ridge’s 2014 team that finished fourth in the Class 4A state tournament. He was a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection as a senior the following season when he led the area with 10 home runs and knocked in 33 runs.
The power numbers continued to rise during his college career. He finished with 258 career hits and tied for the most homers in Warhawks’ history with 47. He is second in career RBIs (181), second in runs scored (187) and tied for fifth in career batting average (.399).
Pecoraro saw Aldridge become a different hitter after his junior season in high school.
“He struggled with curveballs his junior year, but he worked all that offseason at recognizing breaking balls,” Pecoraro said. “When he got to college, he hit well, and he said all he was seeing was breaking balls. He said, ‘Coach, I just hunt the breaking ball now.’ He became a great breaking ball hitter.”
Aldridge said he developed into his body and his swing in college, which he attributed to the big power numbers.
“I worked at it and worked at it,” Aldridge said. “I had tons of support along the way. I tried to get better every single day in and out. Lucky enough, for me it worked out.”
Aldridge credited Whitewater strength and conditioning coach Lee Munger for also affecting his career.
“Coach Munger is incredible,” Aldridge said. “I gained so much strength and endurance. I became an all-around much better athlete when I got to Whitewater.”
Aldridge is in his final semester at Whitewater and is doing his student teaching in special education at Crystal Lake South. He graduates in December.
“I would love to coach baseball, football, anywhere [a school] needs me to help out,” he said. “I’m just so grateful. It’s great to have success, but it’s for everyone who’s been a part of my journey. I’m so happy to have these opportunities and the people I’ve met along the way. I’m glad they’re all a part of it as well.”