When players leave third-year coach Rob Ramseyer’s baseball program he wants them to not only be better players, but young men with “integrity that will impact others.” Starting catcher, sophomore Nick Mitchell (Wichita), has embraced this task head on.
“He is a guy I feel has really matured both as a player and person,” Ramseyer said. “He has worked hard and developed into a really nice player. I am really proud of the player and person he has become.”
Growing up in Wichita, Mitchell attended Bishop Carroll High School, playing baseball all four years, patiently waiting for an opportunity behind eventual DI athletes. Mitchell came to Hesston his freshman year as a redshirt, ending his season in Enid, Oklahoma as starting catcher. Ever since, his teammates and friends have seen him as a leader. Freshman pitcher and Mitchell’s roommate, Hayden Pentecost (Wichita), had to come 36 miles to find someone who had been five minutes away all along.
“We have good, clean fun in the dorms and on the field,” Pentecost said. “He is a positive leader while we’re in action.”
Mitchell shows leadership through example and encouragement while playing. Andrew Berry (Mulvane), freshman catcher under Mitchell’s wing, says Mitchell is “very deserving of being athlete of the week.”
“Nick is an amazing athlete,” Berry said. “He always gives it his all and is always trying to get better. He’s a great teammate who helps Bryce [Elder] and I if we are having a hard time in a drill. Nick can also take constructive criticism and doesn’t blow it off, but uses it to become a better player.”
In the Larks’ season opener on Feb. 14 at Independence Community College (Kansas) Mitchell was ready to play. During the first game of the double-header Mitchell went 1-3, then continuing to step up his play for the second game going 2-3, both doubles. Sophomore Rene Rivera (McGregor, Texas) appreciates Mitchell’s ability to focus.
“He is laid back and has a crazy side,” Rivera said, “but when it is time to be focused and serious, he’s ready to go.”
Freshman pitcher, Collin Loutensock (West Valley, Utah), connects well with the catcher, having the ability to trust Mitchell behind the plate. When Loutensock needs reassurance on the mound, he can count on Mitchell.
“He just comes out and is his goofy self and that just helps me relax,” Loutensock said. “This allows me to clear my head and get back to being focused. I feel like I can throw him any pitch and be confident he’ll stop it.”
Mitchell demonstrates his leadership on campus as well, being a member of the Student Advisory Board.
Mitchell, a sociology major at Hesston, dreams of entering the police academy. After Hesston he plans to continue his education with a criminal justice degree. When asked why Mitchell aspires to be a police officer, his answer was simple.
“I want to help people,” Mitchell said. “I want people to look to me for guidance and give people a sense of security.”
“He has developed as a baseball player and a person as much as anyone I have ever coached,” Ramseyer said. “I am very proud of what he has done and am looking forward to seeing him continue to develop throughout the season.”
The Larks’ next game is in Enid, Oklahoma on Tuesday, Feb. 24 versus Northern Oklahoma College at 1 p.m.