BELPRE - Wes Hatfield, a two-sport athlete at Belpre High School, has decided to cast his college lot with Ohio Valley University, where he will play baseball for the Fighting Scots.
The 5-8, 158-pound Belpre native played sports all the way through growing up, but "actually never really thought about'' playing in college "until this year,'' said Hatfield. "I figured after my senior year, I'd be done with sports, and that would be sad. But then I thought I did too well this year and had too much fun to not keep playing.''
Hatfield liked OVU "because it's not extremely big, and I'm not real big on going into a big environment. I like to get to know everybody and to get to talk to the teachers. I think I have more of a chance to get hands-on experience in a smaller atmosphere like OVU.''
MIKE MORRISON The Marietta Times
Beverly/Lowell’s Wes Hatfield delivers a hit in an American Legion baseball game against Cambridge at Fort Frye last Sunday. The 2012 Belpre grad will be continuing his education and playing baseball at Ohio Valley University in the fall.
He follows former Belpre teammate Clay Ullman to OVU as the Golden Eagles have had four players, two in each of the last two years, go to college to play NCAA Division II baseball, with Tyler Watkins last year to Ohio Dominican University in Columbus and Drew Nestor this year to Glenville State College.
GSC too was where Hatfield ''considered first, as I was going to go down there with Drew, and we were going to room together.
"But I just thought I wasn't ready to leave my family yet, and leave this place, so I thought I'd stick around here for a little bit longer and play baseball.''
In that regard, Hatfield thinks OVU is "a good opportunity for me; I think I made a good decision.''
Hatfield's a pretty good student as well, but is "still undecided'' about what he wants to study in college. At this point though, he ''is leaning toward history, as history's my favorite subject,'' to be possibly be a teacher.
Hatfield said his college choice was not a decision between football and baseball either. "It was baseball all the way,'' he said. "I enjoyed playing football, but not as much as baseball.''
In football, Hatfield, like in baseball, started at a variety of positions for three years - wingback, running back and fullback on offense, and linebacker and free safety on defense.
In baseball through his four years on the team at Belpre, Hatfield played every position on the field except second base and shortstop, including all three outfield spots as well pitcher, catcher, first base, third base and designated hitter.
Hatfield's preference though, and what he considers his best position, is "either right or left field,'' although he did play center field for the first time this past season and "really liked it. But I think as far as going into college, I'm going to stick with left and right.''
Late in Hatfield's senior season however, "I ended up going back to catching for the last seven or eight games, and (OVU head) coach (Bob) Crawford came to watch me, saw me catch and said he liked what he saw of me at catcher too.''
In college, Hatfield "would like to stay in the outfield, but that doesn't mean I won't catch.''
Hatfield started all four years in baseball, "flip-flopping'' back and forth basically between the outfield and catcher. Belpre's best year in that time was Hatfield's junior season, a 16-3 record and ''my batting got really good, .418 that year,'' he said.
"This year, we were not as successful as I would have liked, but we still had a couple of good wins and went 9-14,'' said Hatfield, who nevertheless had the second-best batting average in the Mid-Ohio Valley at .515, just a point behind the area leader at .516, as well as leading the TVC Hocking Division in hitting to earn both All-TVC and All-Southeast District first-team honors.
Belpre head coach Terry Mullen said he aaaa'knew Wes could play college baseball. He was as hard a worker as anyone. I don't know if he can go to OVU and start as a freshman, but in a year or two, I see him as a starter. He's really improved on his speed, running-wise, and his arm strength is right in there with any freshman coming in to play college baseball.''
Hatfield's hitting though, Mullen emphasized, is "what's going to carry him. He's always made contact. I don't think in his four years here, he's probably struck out more than six, seven times.'' But more importantly, added Mullen, ''Wes is just a great kid who was very successful here at Belpre High School. I wish I had 20 of him.''