Sophomore slugger ready for prime-time
Laurier baseball is one of the most competitive teams in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) this season.
The expectations for the team are grand, but perhaps no player has more pressure to succeed than reigning OUA rookie of the year and team MVP Nathan Loehle.
While the outfielder Nathan Loehle has been limited to playing designated hitter due to a shoulder injury, he is still able to contribute with his all-star batting, a talent he discovered at a young age.
“I started playing baseball right when I could walk, and when I was first playing, I was using a Fisher Price bat and ball and hit the ball over our house,” said Loehle.
His talents started being noticed outside his backyard once he started playing house league, which he did until age 11, where he was asked to play rep ball.
The biggest jump came after his four years of rep, as Loehle had a successful tryout for an elite level of baseball, which cemented his belief that baseball was the right sport for the all-around athlete he was.
“At 15, I started playing for the inner county Terriers out of Cambridge and baseball was just logical for me. I played other sports, but baseball was my passion,” he said.
After three years on the Terriers, it was clear that Nathan Loehle could play baseball at a university level, which took him south of the border to see if he could make an impact in the ever-competitive world of American collegiate sports.
Before Loehle set his sights on becoming a Golden Hawk, he went down to the States to play baseball for Belleville University, located just outside of Omaha, Nebraska. Loehle’s reason for leaving the States and becoming a Golden Hawk may be unexpected if not surprising to some.
“The education wasn’t what I was looking for, so I landed on Laurier for obvious reasons. Plus it was close to home.”
It was obvious right from the start that Laurier baseball was a perfect fit for Loehle, as evident by his first at-bat as a Golden Hawk, an eye opening moment for many.
“My very first at-bat as a Hawk was in an exhibition game against the [Guelph] Gryphons.”
“I cranked it about 350 feet foul and I knew I could play OUA ball right then,” he said.
Only a few games later, in a tournament hosted by the Golden Hawks, Loehle hit his first two home runs as a Golden Hawk, a trend that would continue for much of the award-winning season.
The personal success is not what the second-year arts student is concerned with though. Loehle expressed. “I don’t care about any personal awards or success. I really just want to win the OUA and then a national championship. It is a team sport and I want to win it all as a team.”
Loehle doesn’t need to search far for extra motivation this season, as WLU will host the OUA playoffs and being a Cambridge native, friends and family will likely be out to show their support.
Loehle and the Golden Hawks continue their run at the title next weekend as they host Queen’s for a double header Saturday, Sept. 17 at Bechtel Park. First pitch is at 4 p.m.