SWEENY — Nathan Nance didn’t draw the attention of his fellow Bulldog pitchers Caden Homniok and Jackson Kiddy, but he showed he can compete with any team when given an opportunity.
He will get that opportunity with Wharton County Junior College, the only program to make him an offer after a senior season that ended in the Class 4A state championship game for the second consecutive season.
“I talked to Incarnate Word during my junior year and I went on a visit to Coastal Bend — it wasn’t an official visit, I just wanted to check out the campus,” Nance said. “But other than that, Wharton was the only one that wanted me to come and play for them.”
The versatile fielder who posted a 1.11 ERA in limited mound time should be quite an asset for the Pioneers. He has played about every spot on the field.
“I think they want to play me middle infield and pitch, but I am sure they will find either the outfield or wherever they need me to find a spot for me,” Nance said.
Having a spot is all that really matters to him, Nance said.
“I really don’t know what position I like the most, but I do prefer the left side to the right side of the field,” he said. “I just want to play, so wherever they put me, I will go out there and do my best.”
Considering his strong offensive production and good numbers on the mound, Nance expressed some disappointment he didn’t have more suitors to continue playing after graduation from Sweeny.
“I am a little bit, but at the same time, I do like Wharton because I think that is a good fit for me,” Nance said. “I will be able to do the same things I was doing here at Sweeny, and that is play all over the field, which is something that I like.”
Putting up numbers like he did for the Bulldogs should earn him the chance to climb up to a four-year program, which Nance hopes to do.
“I am looking at going onto the next level, so I do want to dominate Wharton and go somewhere where I can win a College World Series,” Nance said. “I think it will be a challenge for me, so I will have to get in the weight room to get a lot stronger. Plus, we won’t be playing any scrubs, so it will be competitive baseball which is something that I will enjoy.”
The Pioneers are members of NJCAA Region XIV, which also includes Alvin Community, San Jacinto, Blinn College, Galveston College and Laredo Community.
“I have a competitive drive for baseball; whenever I step on the field it is go time,” Nance said. “For me there is no other feeling like with baseball. I just can’t get enough of it.”
Nance has played in many pressured-packed environments from Little League to the two state title games in Austin. He achieved much of that success with many of the same teammates.
“It was kind of expected because of the confidence that we all have with each other,” he said. “We all knew what it was going to take to get there. I really felt like we should have won that final game. But stuff rolls around and you can’t win them all. But I am going to miss playing with my boys.”
Nance got to pitch an inning in the 4A state championship game against Argyle as he gave up a walk with no hits in facing four batters.
Nance wants to follow in his father’s footsteps working in nuclear technology when his playing days are over, but he will always value his baseball memories, he said.
“It’s hard to explain and it feels like time just flew by,” Nance said. “But I am glad I got to do everything with those guys. They pushed me to make me better, because I was competing against all those guys like Quinton Martin, Wes Folse and Caden Homniok. Those were some good guys to play with, because I grew up with them and they were always good, so it just made me better.”