Player Profile - Nathan Wedgewood
Posted February 14, 2020
Nathan Wedgewood is entering his final season with the VIU Mariners. He has been a part of a lot of good teams, including a second place finish in the CCBC World Series in 2015. We sat down with Nathan as he reflected on his career. The Mariners open their pre season schedule Feb 24 in Phoenix Arizona against Glendale Community College.
Q: The Mariners are opening the season in Arizona this year. What part of the spring trip do you look forward to the most every year?
A: Getting to compete against good competition right away. It's a tough battle against teams from that area because due to the weather they can play on the field 12 months out of the year. We are just getting back on the field after 4 months of indoor training so it's a challenge to jump right back into it. There is also better coaching at the younger levels so by the time they get to college they tend to be more polished, where as a lot of our guys have to work way harder once they get here to catch up. That is what makes it such a good test for us to see if we have been putting in the work as a group. Other than that, getting to go to a spring training game is really cool. When you watch the games on TV and highlights you can fall into a trap of thinking they can just show up and be that good. At spring training we get to see them put in work the same as we have been doing. It's a reminder this game doesn't give you anything for free. I also like getting to see the prospects. They are trying to make an impression not just get their reps, so when they get to come into games they are trying to play the best they can, not just get back into shape. Whenever I go to a MLB regular season game it feels like the players are removed from the fans a bit. It's nice when we go that it has a more personal feel being so close to the action. Last year we went to a San Diego Padres game and saw Josh Naylor get an at bat and we went crazy for him. Someone shouted “That's a good Canadian kid!” He turned and tipped his cap to us. It was pretty cool to be able to be that close to the players and show support to those guys.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most going into your final season as a Mariner?
A: I'm looking forward to a few things. Competing with my teammates to win a championship one last year is the number one thing on the list. I also really want to win my first CCBC championship with a team that has really earned it. But I'm really looking forward to proving people wrong. I feel like this year, more than others, we are getting written off and I’m excited to prove just how good we are.
Q: What do you see as the strengths of the team this year?
A: When I pitch against our guys I notice our hitters compete and make adjustments better than a lot of lineups I have faced in my collegiate career. Throughout the lineup I need to get guys out a different way every time. I might be able to fool a guy to get him out in his first at bat but when he gets back up there if I try the same thing they are waiting on it. That just speaks to the compete level they have, making adjustments at the plate at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch. The other big strength we have is our pitching staff is mentally tough. Most of us were on the team last year so we are a tight group and we know what we need to do to be successful. We have some young guys who we are counting on but most of our starters are going into their 3rd year which is where the age, development, and experience really start to show.
Q: Who are you counting on to help the most this year?
A: I’ll talk about 1 hitter and one pitcher: On the offensive side it's gotta be Liam Ballance. He is the kind of guy where not only am I teammates with him, I am also a fan. I get to watch him play every day so I can really appreciate the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheets where on offense or defense. I get excited when a ball gets hit to him because I know he will do whatever it takes to make the play. When he steps in the box we all stop and watch what he does. You never know what he is going to do but it's always something special. It’s really great to be able to get that from one of our leaders.
On the pitching side, I think Thomas Lessmeister has a chance to win Pitcher of the Year. The improvements he has made speak for themselves with his increase in velocity and his proven ability to get hitters out. The thing that really sticks out the most with him though is his mental approach every day. It reminds me of guys like Austin Gurr and Kenton Schroter when they had their great years. I expect we will see one of those types of years from him.
Q: What would winning a championship in your final year mean to you?
A: I can't put it into words. It would be a perfect cap to my career. This is some of the last competitive ball I will get to play so its something I have really been working towards. I feel like we should have won twice already. In 2015 we were in the championship with 2 outs and the winning run on second in the 8th inning. 2018 we needed to win 1 more game to make it to the finals and had a long, tough day. That one hurt the most because I had more of a role on the team so I felt like it was more on my shoulders. This year is my last chance and I’m excited to accomplish what I set out to when I first came out to the Island.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories as a Mariner?
A: My favorite memory from the regular season was in There was a weekend we met PBA in kelowna, beat OC and PBA twice for 4-0 weekend. No celebration. Packed up, got on the bus, then went crazy on the bus. It’s always tough to win 4 games in 2 days, especially against good teams, so when you come out of that kind of weekend with 4 wins and you see them leave with their heads down and we walk off like we expected it, to me that's the best way.
My favorite memory as a part of the team outside of the season was the 2018 Fall World Series when I won the MVP. I wasn’t an early round pick which put a chip on my shoulder. Then after the draft the other team thought they would sweep us and wrote us off which made that chip get bigger. I knew we had to beat them. It made me get to a level competitively I had never gotten to before, I had proved to them what I can do. I threw in 3 of the 5 games that year. I had 2 wins in my first 2 starts, then in the final game in the series I got the start again. I was tired and my arm hurt but I dug down deep and was able to get it done. To this day when I'm on the mound and things aren't going my way I think back to that day and it helps me get into that mental state again. I really established myself on the team that day.
Q: In your career as a university baseball player, what lessons have stuck with you the most?
A: No matter what happens between the lines, it doesn't matter after the game. Whether you got the game winning hit or gave up the game winning hit, your teammates will always pick you up. Every year I’ve played here that has been the case. It’s really that family mentality.
Playing university baseball has really helped me learn how to deal with the emotions. I never had a problem with it before, but college baseball is different then high school ball. When you gotta play senior night at Norbrock Stadium, it’s a unique experience. You get up early to catch the first boat, ride the bus 4-5 hours, play a 9 inning game, then play another one. At that point you have been up for 12+ hours and the fans are in just the right mood to let you know that they don’t think you are very good. It’s hard to block out the noise and it can be really tough for young guys. That being said, Sunday morning is usually a pretty easy game. I have been in some summer ball games that have gotten rowdy, but nothing that compares to my experiences with it in CCBC.