Fort’s ‘Cool Hand’ Luke stars in baseball, basketball

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Fort Frye senior Luke Nelson has had a successful prep career on the basketball court and the baseball diamond for the Cadets.

Luke Nelson

Fort Frye

Year: senior

Age: 18

GPA: 3.6

Favorite subject: history

Sports: baseball, basketball

Hgt: 5-foot-9

Bats: left; Throws: left

Baseball positions: pitcher and center fielder

2018 baseball honor: OVAC (Ohio Valley Athletic Conference) 3A Player of the Year with a .439 batting average, 17 steals, 34 runs scored, and a 6-2 record on the hill with one save and a 0.83 ERA (earned run average). In 43-1/3 innings of work, he struck out 59 and walked 30.

Other school activities: National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, FCA, guidance office aide and teacher’s aide

College: Muskingum University or Malone University

Major: accounting

Family: Rob and Stephanie Nelson (father and mother); sister: Carlee (a gymnast)

Question: Big basketball game tonight (vs. Waterford Tuesday evening in Beverly). Any thoughts on the rivalry?

Answer: It’s always intense. Gym is packed, and the game should be a good one. It’s always a fight to the end. (Fort Frye ended up winning, 73-47.)

Q: Do you think about the game during the day at school?

A: (Laughs) Not really. Not until 5 o’clock.

Q: What’s your favorite sport?

A: I’d say baseball. I’ve always liked it more.

Q: When did you start playing baseball?

A: I think when I was 5 years old.

My dad always threw with me in the yard, a tennis ball or something. I started off in Bantam in Marietta and then I played at Worthington in West Virginia when I was about 7 or 8. And I’ve loved it ever since.

Q: As a high school baseball player, what’s been your biggest thrill so far?

A: Probably winning OVAC back-to-back. It was a great feeling. We’d only done it once. So, winning back-to-back was pretty special.

Q: Last year as a junior, you received a huge baseball honor, right?

A: (Smiles) OVAC Player of the Year. It was a great feeling. It was special, and hopefully I can try and get it again.

Q: I imagine the Fort Frye baseball team has some lofty goals this upcoming spring?

A: I think we’re going to be pretty good. But it’s going to be rough and weird without Coach (Sonny) Bidwell. (Bidwell passed away last summer.)

Q: What kind of an impact did Coach Bidwell have on your baseball career?

A: He taught me everything about life and how to be a player on and off the baseball field. I’m going to miss him.

Q: How’s the left arm?

A: It’s good. I had like an injury in my elbow area. I didn’t pitch that much in Legion ball (Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750) last summer, but it’s feeling fine this year.

Q: Are you thinking about playing baseball at the collegiate level?

A: It’s a possibility. I really haven’t thought about it yet.

Q: How long have you been playing basketball?

A: Probably when I was 6 or 7 at the YMCA.

Q: You’re like instant offense when you enter the game. Do you like coming off the bench?

A: It doesn’t matter to me. I do whatever’s best for the team. Just winning is what matters to me.

Q: What’s been your biggest basketball thrill so far?

A: I’d say right now it’s Tyler Bradford’s buzzer-beating basket at the top of the key at the end against Waterford at home last year. It was crazy.

Q: Did you get the assist?

A: (Smiles) I think I did. I’m not sure though. I don’t remember.

Q: Who’s been influential in your development as a Fort Frye athlete?

A: My dad.

He’s always been there and taught me a lot of life’s skills and how to play the game of baseball and basketball.

Q: What do you do off the playing fields in the fall?

A: Usually, I play fall baseball or fall basketball. I’m always either hitting in a cage or shooting a basketball.

Q: Who’s your favorite MLB team?

A: Cleveland Indians. (Smiles) I’m an Indians fan.

Q: How about basketball?

A: The Cavaliers.

Q: Even without LeBron?

A: Yeah, I still support them without him.

Q: Being a senior, is there anything you’d like to shout out?

A: Uh, just keep the Fort Frye tradition going. And I’d like to thank my family for always being there for me.

Q: Your family actually resides in Marietta, not far from the Duckworths?

A: (Smiles) Like 20 seconds away. When I was younger, we lived in Devola, and then we moved when I was about 4.

Ron Johnston, rjohnston@mariettatimes.com