By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary senior Collin Wentworth had dreamed of this day ever since he was 5 years old.
On Feb. 7, in front of his family and teammates, Wentworth celebrated his baseball signing with Grays Harbor Community College.
“I’ve always wanted to play college baseball, ever since I was a little kid, and it’s just unreal right now,” said Wentworth, who began playing at Keizer Little League when he was 5. “It’s (baseball) meant the world to me. It’s kind of like my backbone for everything. I love it.”
After emailing several schools and also considering Southwestern Oregon and Linfield, Wentworth toured the Grays Harbor campus, located in Aberdeen, Wash., in October.
His visit included dinner with Grays Harbor head baseball coach Mike Brunner.
“We liked what we saw with Collin physically and what his abilities were and we loved what we learned about Collin on his visit and what kind of person he was, how he communicated and you could tell he was excited and passionate about baseball and his future,” said Brunner, who travelled more than 370 miles roundtrip to be at Wentworth’s signing ceremony. “You can’t help to be excited about a young man’s future if he is. We knew he was a good fit for us and we’re extremely happy that he’s going to be a Choker.”
Wentworth’s current head coach, Larry Keeker, at McNary, remembers the first time he saw Collin play. He was in the eighth grade, playing on a youth team at McNary.
“I got a chance to just watch him play a little bit and he caught my attention right away,” Keeker said. “His dad had been able to teach him a certain skill set, even at that age.”
After Wentworth’s freshman year, Keeker invited him to play on McNary’s Division I team, made up of mostly returning varsity players, in the summer.
“I loved his attitude at that point in time, very business-like, very mature,” Keeker said. “He was not afraid to jump in with the older guys and play and just do his job. He caught my attention as the varsity coach at an early age.”
As a sophomore, Wentworth split time between the junior varsity and varsity teams. He was then promoted to the starting varsity shortstop last season as a junior.
Wentworth prides himself on his defense.
“He spends a lot of time working on his defense, his hands, his feet, his exchanges,” Keeker said. “He has a passion that any kid that’s going to play baseball in college or any other sport, that he has instilled already that he has a desire to get better. That’s one of the qualities that’s really going to help Collin as he progresses through this season and then in college as well.”
He’s also been a leader for the Celtics.
“We’re super excited that Collin is to continue his baseball career in college,” Keeker added. “Collin is a quality young man. He represents our program in a positive way.”
Wentworth enjoyed manning the middle of McNary’s infield with second baseman Josh Benson, who graduated last June.
“He’s just one of my best friends,” Wentworth said. “I love playing with that kid and just rolling double plays with him is fun.”
At the encouragement of another teammate, catcher Tyler Covalt, Wentworth has shown off his athleticism this winter, joining the McNary swim team.
“It’s been different and a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Wentworth said. “It’s just a fun experience.”
After two years at Grays Harbor, Wentworth hopes to continue his baseball career at a four-year university and get his degree in physical therapy.