MISSOULA, Mont. - After his all-state junior season, Mavericks catcher Slade Heggen thought he'd seen his last days suiting up for the Missoula legion program.
After committing to play college baseball at the University of Oregon, Heggen planned on having to travel to Kalamath Falls for summer league in order to get himself prepared for PAC-12 competition.
"The reason I wanted to go to Kalamath and the reason I wasn't going to play legion is because of the pitching," explained Heggen. "I wanted to be able to get ready for Oregon and the PAC-12 pitching I'm going to face. So I was nervous about that which is why I didn't want to go play Mavs."
However a recent off-season opportunity changed things for Heggen. After facing some minor league pitching in Arizona the Missoula catcher said he was able to get his timing down against 90-plus mile an hour pitching within a couple of weeks. At that point Heggen decided every day reps in Missoula would be better than splitting time in Kalamath. Needless to say his Maverick teammates were happy to hear the good news.
"It's huge having Slade back," said Missoula senior shortstop Jesson Preston. "Not only is he a great defensive catcher but it brings a lot of speed and power to the batting lineup. Obviously his leadership is really nice to have."
"I mean he's our leader out there. He's our defensive leader, he's our catcher," said senior first baseman Shane Olson. "I remember when he told me. We were down in Arizona and he told me and I tackled him in the hotel room because I was so excited. It's going to be great, I mean he's all-state. He's just a leader and he takes control of every situation. It's going to be fun."
"Well I've worked with Shane for five years you know and always with the Mavs," said Heggen. "And we've come up short on state twice now and being able to play with them one more year is a pretty special opportunity."
Heggen and the Mavericks will open up their legion season this weekend at home in Missoula with a double-header Sunday against Great Falls.