By Justin Paura/Axcess Baseball
Down in Texas, there are two types of young athletes: those who play football, and those who do not. Nick Thornquist was one of those athletes who chose to go a different route.
“I guess just like most young athletes, I wanted to play every sport to find what I really liked,” said Thornquist, a catcher with the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, where he’s slugging above .400. “I started playing baseball when I was around five years old, and ever since then I would say the love of the sport just grew more and more over time.
“Of course, all your high school coaches push you to try out football your freshman year,” he added. “But after I played my freshman year, I knew it wasn’t for me, and I wanted to have more time to focus on baseball in the fall.”
Though his parents thought he would have more success in the pool than on the diamond or the gridiron, Thornquist stuck with his passion and the results did not disappoint. His resume at Flower Mound High School features a .450 batting average his senior year, a two-time first-team all-conference selection, a Texas all-star game nod and a state championship.
“My family always thought I could be a better swimmer than a baseball player, but I had always had a stronger love for baseball,” the Missouri City native said. “But now, all I can say is thank you. No words could describe how grateful I am for my parents who drove me hours to games and tournaments and devoted their time and money to get me where I am today.”
Despite all his success, Thornquist did not have any big-time colleges call his name.
“Out of high school, I wasn’t looked at by a lot of Division 1 schools, but I had some of the better community colleges looking at me,” the 20-year-old said. “For me, I thought that getting that chance to play my freshman and sophomore years would give me a better opportunity to play at the next level as well as excelling as a ballplayer in general.”
He put his thoughts into action when he committed to McLennan Community College. In his freshman year, Thornquist appeared in 30 games and finished the season with a .367 batting average and 16 RBIs. He saw more action this past spring and increased his RBI total by four while batting just under .300. The Highlanders used Thornquist as their starting catcher as they went on to win their conference.
After Thornquist concluded his sophomore year at community college, Division 1 schools finally noticed his talents and the offers started to come in. For him, it was a tough decision that required him to weigh multiple factors beyond baseball. Thornquist is proud of his academic achievement, including his membership in the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society with a 4.2 weighted GPA. When he sat down with his family and considered all his options, Thornquist picked the University of Texas-San Antonio.
“This was extremely important to my family, considering it will be the place I spend my last two years of baseball and education,” he said. “But UTSA was very engaged with me going into my sophomore fall and I had a couple of previous teammates from McLennan that are playing there who helped convince me that it would be a good place for me to be. The coaching staff seems great and I feel like I will be given my opportunities to get on the field.”
If the Roadrunners needed any more reason to be excited for Thornquist’s arrival, the kid is having one hell of a summer in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. As of Tuesday, he led the HCBL in batting average at .487 in 76 at-bats and he leads the Whalers in hits, runs, doubles, home runs and walks.
“I’ve just simplified my approach at the plate and have fought to work deeper in counts,” Thornquist said about his approach this summer. “I’m trying to make pitchers challenge me with their best pitches and when they make a mistake I’m doing my best not to miss it.”
At 11-9-3 as of Tuesday, the Whalers were in third place in the HCBL standings, clinging to a spot in the playoffs, which begin later this month. For Thornquist, it’s not easy spending two months of your summer in a completely unfamiliar part of the country, but he is soaking up every minute of it.
“I’m enjoying it a bunch, it’s awesome being able to get out and explore a different part of the country,” he said. “I think that the Whalers and Hamptons League do an amazing job at giving the players the opportunity to play at such a high level, as well as housing and feeding the number of players that they do.Heck, who wouldn’t want to spend their summer in the Hamptons?”
Thornquist continues to make his case for the HCBL MVP but, more importantly, he continues to aid Sag Harbor in its pursuit of the playoffs. No matter what happens later this month, it’s clear the kid from Texas is making the most of his summer in Sag Harbor as he prepares for his first Division 1 baseball season.