With not many options available because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2019 Waunakee graduate Nate Stevens was not sure if he would play baseball this summer.
Stevens, a catcher, considered playing for Waunakee in the Home Talent League after his season at Johnson County Community College in Kansas was cut short because of the pandemic. But then the HTL canceled its season.
Stevens finally got the call he was waiting for. He was asked to join the La Crosse Loggers in the Northwoods League.
“I had nowhere to play because most of my options were canceled,” Stevens said. “La Crosse called and asked if I wanted to play. I was really excited because it is close to home. It was great to get a chance to play because I was not expecting it.”
Stevens played in seven games for the Loggers. In 14 at bats, he batted .143 with three runs and a double.
“I was a little bit disappointed with how I played, but it was live at bats that I wouldn’t have seen this summer,” Stevens said. “It got me ready for the fall college season.”
Despite not playing as well as he would have liked, Stevens was happy for the opportunity.
“It was a great overall experience,” Stevens said. “It was my first time staying with a host family and playing in a minor-league atmosphere. It was very good competition. We saw a lot of great pitchers from big college programs.”
Stevens his hopeful he left a good enough impression to come back to La Crosse in the future.
“It was just a one-year contract, but they told me once a logger, always a logger,” Stevens said. “There may be a chance to come back in the future.”
Stevens started his college career at the University of Arkansas, but transferred to Johnson County Community College. He played and started 17 games for the Cavaliers this past spring.
In his freshman season, Stevens batted an impressive .379 with 18 RBIs, 10 runs, four home runs and four doubles.
Defensively, Stevens had just one error in 143 chances for a fielding percentage of .993.
Stevens also did well in the classroom in his first season. He earned NJCAA All-Academic third team with a grade point average between 3.60-3.79.
Before their season was halted by the pandemic, Stevens and the Cavaliers were an impressive 20-3 overall. They were 5-1 in conference play.
“We did get a lot of games in compared to some of my friends at the Division 1 level,” Stevens said. “It sucked that the season ended early because we had a great team.”
Stevens is back in Kansas and getting ready for a new school year. He is still waiting to hear how the ongoing pandemic will affect the upcoming season.
“What we have heard so far, the outlook is good for this season,” Stevens said. “We will have some restrictions, but there is a good chance we get the season in.”
Stevens is confident that if there is a season, the Cavaliers are poised for a big season.
“We were in the Top 10 in the country last year and we have a lot of really good guys coming back,” Stevens said. “Our chances are good as a team, and I would like to keep getting better individually. We have some great coaches to work with here.”