Ponciano now seeing the light -- literally!

PULLMAN -- Jay Ponciano has seen the light now that he can... well, see the lights. And the outfield fence. And the pitcher. And the spin on a breaking ball.

Ponciano, the little catcher who has come up so big for the Cougars down the stretch, said his torrid hitting is partly the result of the fact that he started wearing contacts in games this month.

Ponciano said he had no idea his eyesight was so bad until he tried out shortstop Shea Vucinich's eyeglasses one day (Vucinich wears contacts for games).

"I put on his glasses and I was like, ‘Whoa! That's how I'm supposed to see,'" Ponciano said.

For testament to his new-found vision, just look at the Cougars' three-game sweep of the Huskies over the weekend. In 12 trips to the plate, Ponciano collected seven hits (two of them homers) and batted in six runs. He also scored four times and stole a base.

Ponciano, who rarely played in the first half of the season after sitting out two years with career-threatening foot problems, leads WSU's regulars with a .378 batting average.

"He's been our MVP the last four or five weeks," coach Donnie Marbut said.

The 5-9, 187-pound Ponciano might qualify as the comeback player of the year if college baseball had such an award. He almost gave up the game because of the foot woes, and didn't have a chance to much this season until injuries to fellow catchers Greg Lagreid and Alex Burg.

PONCIANO HAS CERTAINLY won his share of awards over the years -- including high school All-State plaudits twice in baseball and once in football.

And he's been honored at art shows for his pottery.

Yes, pottery. He's even sold some of his work since he got interested in pottery when he "had to take one of those stupid elective courses" at Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash.

"Instantly, once I got my hands in the clay, they couldn't get me out of the class," Ponciano said. "I was getting in trouble for skipping lunches, going in there. It's just a good kind of stress release, I guess."

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