2014 POLK COUNTY BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hatley helping the Dragons have a ball

DALLAS — After a sophomore campaign in 2013 that saw Logan Hatley earn the third spot in Dallas’ pitching rotation, he knew something had to change. Despite a talented roster, Hatley said players weren’t seeing the results they expected.    “I learned to just have fun playing baseball,” Hatley said. “We had a couple kids last year who wanted to win so bad, it kind of took a toll on the rest of us.    “That group was really talented. When we lost in the first round, we thought maybe we needed to rethink our mindset. Maybe we’re missing something.”    With an offseason spent working on his throwing motion, Hatley emerged as the Dragons’ No. 1 starter in 2014, earning wins against two of the Mid-Willamette Conference’s top three teams in Crescent Valley and Corvallis. He also was named the MWC’s Pitcher of the Year.    All of these accomplishments helped Hatley earn the title of 2014 Polk County Baseball Player of the Year from the Itemizer-Observer.    Hatley entered his junior season with high expectations. After earning a spot on varsity, Hatley looked forward to a chance to become one of the team’s top pitchers.    But it wasn’t only his goal to be a starter. Hatley sought to make other teams take notice of him throughout the season.    “I didn’t know there was a Pitcher of the Year award in the league,” Hatley said. “But I knew I wanted to strive for the all-league first team. After every week, I thought about whether that coach would give me a first-place vote.”    Hatley had little to worry about, going 6-3. But Hatley’s success comes as little surprise after spending the summer working on his control.    “My biggest improvement was working with (Coach Scot McDonald) to duplicate the same throwing motion every time,” Hatley said.    He also focused on the mental aspect during games.    “(Coach McDonald), I’ve learned a lot of little things from him,” Hatley said. “Whether it’s trying to see the pitch before I throw it or working on my motion, he’s played a lot of baseball and he takes the time to help. It’s nice to know that just because I have runners on second and third, it’s not a guarantee that they will score.”    An offseason of work resulted in a banner season for Hatley. He recorded 88 strikeouts while allowing only 12 earned runs during the league season for an ERA of 1.96.    But Hatley’s leadership stretches beyond when he’s on the mound, taking steps to be a vocal presence for the team, regardless of whether he was in the lineup or not.    “I learned this from (teammate) Tucker (Weaver) to cheer everyone on loudly and try and be the first one out to congratulate everyone,” Hatley said.    While he made great strides during his junior year, what may be worrisome for opponents is the fact that Hatley has his eyes set on taking his game to a new level for his senior season.    “I’m working on my change-up,” Hatley said. “I want it to look more like my fastball and still have that little bite at the end. I’ve been able to do it for parts of the season, but sometimes I’ll leave it inside.”    Hatley is one of three pitchers set to return to the Dragons next season, along with Weaver and Seth Fast. And while he’s pleased with what he accomplished as a junior, he’s already looking ahead to his final year and how he can help the Dragons get past the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs for the first time in his high school career.    “It would mean a lot for the guys (to advance in the state playoffs),” Hatley said. “We’ve played together for so long; it would feel right to end it with a deep run.”    Hatley will keep himself busy during the upcoming school year, playing quarterback for the football team, while also playing basketball in the winter. But it’s baseball that he sees himself playing after high school.    “When you get past your sophomore year, people start asking you what you want to do with your life,” Hatley said. “Playing baseball as a so-called job would be an amazing feeling, no matter what the level.”


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