It was a homecoming of sorts on Monday night for former Pitman High standout baseball player Bradin Hagens. Hagens, a current member of the Visalia Rawhide, was back in the Valley to face the Modesto Nuts.
“It’s nice to have my family come out and watch. It’s almost like I’m not in season right now because I get to see them so much,” Hagens said. “It’s comforting and makes me want to play harder.”
After graduating from Pitman in 2007, Hagens joined Merced College’s baseball team where he manned the hill for two seasons. After his second season with Merced, Hagens was given a choice to make, either accept a scholarship from Oklahoma State University or go pro. Hagens chose the latter and was drafted in the sixth round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, receiving a $125,000 signing bonus and beginning his trek to the majors.
Despite the many stops he’s made throughout his baseball career, which includes Missoula, Mont. and South Bend, Ind., Hagens still remembers his days at Pitman and the lessons he learned, specifically his sinker pitch which he still uses to this day.
“It was fun; Tate was a guy you wanted to play for and I had a great pitching coach,” Hagens said. “I hold on to those guys, they got me where I’m at.”
With his high school days long behind him Hagens has had to adjust to a new level of play which demands a high degree of focus and confidence. Currently a reliever for the Rawhide, Hagens must be prepared to pitch at any moment, constantly keeping him on his toes and his mind on the game.
“I feel like the hitters are much more dangerous, you can’t really relax,” Hagens said. “Wood bats make inside pitches easier sometimes but as you move up everyone gets better you have to be more finely tuned and execute better.”
Prior to Monday’s game against Modesto, Hagens had only pitched two innings for the Rawhide but was able to add two more innings to his resume after taking the mound in the sixth. With a 5-0 lead Hagens faced seven batters, allowed two runs and struck one batter out. Although it wasn’t a stellar outing it was a good beginning in what is still a long road to the big show.
“I got to keep getting outs and I can’t give up runs,” Hagens said. “I need to execute and give my defense and chance to make plays.”
Visalia defeated Modesto 9-0. The Rawhide and Nuts played again on Tuesday and will have one more matchup today.