By Jeremy McDonald
CORVALLIS, Ore.– At roughly five-foot-ten to five-foot-eleven-inches and pushing at or above 200 pounds, Hunter BeDoya isn’t what you would considered ‘small’ in stature; but playing with the Withnell Dodgers Triple-A American Legion baseball team, you can look at the 3A Salem Academy-graduate playing with guys from 6A’s Sprague, South Salem and North Salem and playing against kids his age and from those big schools as a Small Fish in a Big Lake.
And for the life-long student of baseball, BeDoya still has aspirations to making the move to the next level and hoping to make the Chemeketa Community College baseball team through the Fall Camp/try-out route to keep the Sandlot-dream alive past this July; and with the help of the Triple-A circuit, he’s seeing the type of competition needed to help him fill that gap in between playing at the 3A-level and to play and think as a college athlete.
“I think it’s more of other people on my team are going to college to play ball,” said BeDoya. “So basically being around them I hope to get into the environment that I should be expecting so hopefully be good enough to make the spring team.”
A few guys BeDoya has or will play with and against are going or playing at the next-level, teammate Justin Culpepper (Chemeketa-Commit) and Cameron Jolly (current-Linn-Benton CC pitcher), BeDoya has played against Brody Wittman (Dirtbags, current Chemeketa athlete) to name a few athletes around the Crusader-Grad with him slowly growing accustom playing up to their level around them.
“I think it helped me a lot honestly, it’s obviously it’s 3A wasn’t the best competition around but I was able to stay within the game in the game was a big factor and I think that’s what helped me stay mentally in-check.” said BeDoya on adjusting to the bigger stage around him.
Against the Michaels Toyota 18U Elite team Saturday in Corvallis, BeDoya went 2-for-5 with a RBI and two doubles in the contest for the First-team Catcher from the PacWest Conference that hit two Grand Slam’s during his senior year his past season.
Slowly, you’re seeing this small school catcher adjusting and making strides at his goals while taking it one step at a time, one-inning at a time and one-game at a time with the mindset that tomorrow could be the last time he’ll be to put on the catcher’s gear and stick out his glove for the pitch.
“It’s been a blast,” said BeDoya on this summer to this point. “I just plan on taking every inning like it’s my last because obviously it will be at some point. I think knowing that I left it out there, every inning of every game of every game. Just make sure I have no regrets when the day comes.”
With that in mind, and the Dodgers entering the latter half of their regular season sitting at 13-8 overall, BeDoya will only improve and who knows where it may take him in the home stretch of the summer season.
When asked about his time in the Crusader uniform however, he points to the small family feel there around the school, around the football field where BeDoya was a defensive lineman, linebacker and sometimes a running back as well as the catcher for the Salem Academy baseball team; one thing also sticks out to him:
Being able to share that time with his younger brother Devon, who was a starting offensive lineman for the Salem Academy team that went to the State Title game and was a pitcher, catcher and an infielder for the Crusaders as well this past season and not to mention playing together last summer for the Single-A Santiam Senators in Stayton.
“I think being able to…just everyone knowing everybody and your whole team is basically your family and so that was great and being able to play with my younger brother Devon,” said BeDoya.
“Oh that was awesome.” BeDoya added on playing with his brother as a part of those Crusader teams and with the Senators last summer. “It’s awesome, I don’t think I’ll forget anytime that I spend with Devon .”