By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– When Sean Webster was just nine-years old playing Little League baseball, a coach by the name of Andrew Bartels saw something in the youngster while Bartels was coaching the Majors team that consisted players two-to-three years older than Webster in the range of 11 and 12-year-old baseball players.
Just watching him during try-outs made Bartels want to take a risk on the then-nine year old Webster to see what he was made of entering the season at the Little League-level.
“He just looked like a baseball player. He had really good instincts, his fundamentals were really solid, he had a really nice swing and I could tell he really enjoy the game,” said Bartels, who spent some time playing for Willamette University during his college baseball days in the early-to-mid 2000’s. “The thing that really stood out for me is that he’s a competitor.
“He would, no matter where I put him, he was always ready for the challenge. He would catch, he would pitch, he would lead-off for us at times. Whatever situation I put him in, he was going to rise to the challenge and he had a lot of success with us.”
As the years went by, Webster developed into a shortstop/pitcher for the 2A Western Mennonite Pioneers, the journey to Signing Day was something spectacular for the Senior sitting front and center of a table draped in purple with a library-full of people around him and his coaches from the past and present surround him as he prepares for the next journey to College.
“You know, it’s flown by,” said Webster on the journey to this point. “But all the memories I’ve made, all the things I’ve learned…it’s going to help me in the next step and all the coaches, to all the players that have been along my side, have helped me create who I am.”
Along the table, on the far right, was former-American Legion Triple-A Withnell Dodger Head Coach Jason Searle who coached Webster for the last two summers as each coach took turns talking about their former (current if you include Western Mennonite Head Coach Sean Chambers) baseball player before he signed on the dotted line.
And the former Bearcat baseball player and Dodger coach spoke highly of Webster stepping up and playing with guys from bigger schools like a North Salem, Sprague, South Salem and against guys from similar school size if not established Junior College or four-year guys like a Brody Wittman (Chemeketa Community College) or Hunter Johnson (Western Oregon University) and how awesome it is to be seeing him going up to the next level even if it’s to his rival school in Linfield.
“It’s a testament to his character first and foremost because he’s a good kid, he’s such a hard worker and he’s got a drive to get himself better,” said Searle. “He’ll do whatever he can to help himself but not only that help do whatever he can to help his team.”
After each coach said something, it was time to put pen-to-paper. Webster pulls the piece of paper close to him, and with the pen in hand, signs his name on the bottom-line as he reaches for the Linfield hat that too was in front of him and puts it on to cheers around him from a nearly full to the brim library of people there to see him commit to be a Wildcat.
“Oh I’m so excited, they have an amazing program and I’m so excited to be apart of it and to maybe put my name in the community there, the team and the legacy to carry on,” said Webster on joining Linfield’s baseball program.
The Wildcats are currently 12-8 on the season in 2018 after going 30-15 in 2017 and 25-15 the year before that.
And going off the community aspect for Webster, it’s a big thing for him as he served as a school mascot of sorts while the Boys Basketball team’s run in Pendleton a few short weeks ago.
Over the summertime, he helped out as a color guard during a summer baseball game with the Dodgers this past summer as he believes that it’s not how you impact your community, but how it impacts you as he gets ready to be involved with another great community in McMinnville here next year.
“It makes me happy, it makes other people happy. It’s something that you remember for time and time again and you carry that on for the rest of your life,” said Webster. “Being apart of a community shapes you are and more than you impacting it, it impacts you.”
And as the coaches tell about stories of him being a nine-year old being concerned about his homework and saying to his coach he may have to leave practice to get it done (something that still rings true to this day for Webster as it is uncertain if the Chemistry-major will get a doctorate as his mother yet) as jokes about his one-eye incident at practice surfaced, one thing can be guaranteed:
Linfield is going to get the best out of one Sean Webster.
“I’m going to be 100-percent in the classroom, I’m going to give 100-percent on the baseball field,” said Webster. “Whatever I do, I’m going to work my best at, that’s what I look forward to.”
As for right now, it’s back to Western Mennonite Baseball as the Pioneers prepare for Willamina on Friday and Gaston on Tuesday.