By Dennis Glade Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald
---- — Jake Bedwell has played just one year of varsity baseball at Washington and one season with the Washington Freedom, all before the beginning of his sophomore year of high school, and he knows his best baseball is ahead of him.
Bedwell has used his experiences from the spring and now the summer to continue to improve every day and the results are beginning to take shape.
As the starting second basemen and seventh place hitter has seen Bedwell drop to the bottom of the lineup after hitting near the top during the spring baseball season for coach Steve Reed and the Washington Hatchets. The switch in lineup order has helped Bedwell be productive against high-level pitching.
While Bedwell’s hitting has come along steadily, Bedwell’s pitching has been a source of pride this summer while he has added a curve ball to his arsenal — a goal of his entering the American Legion schedule.
“I’ve improved very well the most improvement has been on the mound,” Bedwell said. “I had the best outing of the year, developing the curve ball has been my goal and that has shown up. I’m very proud of how I’ve progressed.”
Bedwell said he was most impressed with the movement on his curve ball during Wednesday’s 22-5 loss at Jasper. The final score was lopsided, but Bedwell insisted his progress was evident before he left the game after three innings with Washington trailing 6-4.
Bedwell had a .316 batting average, .398 on-base percentage with 16 RBIs and on the mound he compiled a 2-4 record with a 5.59 ERA to go along with 24 strikeouts in 36 1-3 innings pitched. Washington Freedom coach Jeff Truelove said from day one he has noticed Bedwell’s commitment to his craft.
“He’s a quick learner,” said Truelove. “He’s very coachable; he takes what you want to give him and he puts it to work. Playing American Legion ball isn’t going to do anything but make him better. Here of late, he’s played really well. He had two hits Monday at Jasper and hit one off the fence.”
Bedwell predominantly played shortstop for Washington during the spring season, but this summer he has moved around, before settling in at second base. Truelove often says he likes to put players in positions they aren’t completely comfortable with to test their ability.
“I’ve always been a player that has been put all over the field. It’s good to see the ball from 2nd base,” Bedwell said. “I prefer to play shortstop, but it’s a good step in playing at another level and that’s what coaches look for.”
The nature of the American Legion with such a large roster, Truelove tries to get everyone into the games to get experience across the board. Truelove says before the season started he told each player he has confidence in them. Bedwell has noticed that fact and it has helped his development.
“Coach Truelove is always there for you,” Bedwell said. “He’s helped with the curve ball and has shown confidence in me and told me not to let the score dictate anything. He told me the summer is the best time to work on things you want to improve. It helps you for your high school career. He’s always a positive guy.”
With 21 games under his belt, Bedwell said confidence will be the key if Washington is to be one of the two teams to advance to the regional. The Freedom hasn’t had a string of games together where the entire roster was present due to family and social obligations throughout the summer. Bedwell said having the roster together as a whole will make a big difference.
“We need to be confident and play like we all played during the season,” Bedwell said. “There for a while when we had the whole team together and really looked like a good baseball team. That’s what we need to do for sectional.”