Senior recruited by UC Davis for baseball

October 23, 2017 — by Alexandra Li

In July, senior Nathan Peng, who plays both pitcher and catcher, received a phone call from the baseball coach for the UC Davis Division 1 team.

Right away, Peng could tell the tone of the call was different from a regular call. He had been invited to take an official visit to tour the school, during which the coach would present him with an offer to play for the team.

“The moment I found out I was getting offered was really happy and exciting for me and my whole family,” Peng said.

After touring the school with the coach, Peng was handed an offer to play for the team, most likely both as a catcher and pitcher. Within six hours, he accepted and was verbally committed.

Peng, who has been playing baseball since second grade, is on both the school team and the California Club team.

Last year for the Falcons, Peng batted an amazing .467, had 44 hits, including 12 doubles, and walloped three home runs. He led the De Anza League in most offensive categories.

On the mound, his top fastball speed averages 87 mph. Peng recognizes that Davis most likely became interested in him for his arm strength and batting power, which teammates have also seen in abundance.

Senior Chris Auches described seeing Peng play sophomore year and being surprised by the strength he had gained since freshman year.

“He’s so well rounded. He has power, fielding, defense, and a strong work ethic,” Auches said.

In terms of a role model, Peng tries to emulate Buster Posey, the all-star catcher for the San Francisco Giants. According to Peng, his ideal future would be one like Posey, starting with being recruited for college baseball.

The path to Davis began for Peng in sophomore year, when his coach told him he was skilled enough to continue baseball beyond high school and be recruited by a top-tier college. In the summer after sophomore year, Peng began emailing coaches of schools he was interested in, including UC Davis, Santa Clara State, UC San Diego and Washington State.

Peng found it valuable to attend camps held by colleges that allowed schools to assess skill level. In December of his junior year, Peng attended camps at Washington State, UC Davis, UCSD, Cal Poly and San Jose State, where he played against other high school players to showcase his skills.

However, Peng found the 11-month waiting process, from first contacting the Davis coach in August to being finally committed in July, to be stressful, since his college application process highly depended on whether he would successfully be recruited for sports.

“I started talking to UC Davis last August and I committed to them this July, but the whole year I did not know whether I could actually go there or if they would really take me,” Peng said. “It was hard.”

According to Peng, his coaches of both school and club teams played an influential role in his process of recruitment. Because the schools do not have the time and resources to send scouts to many games, the college coaches will instead call the coaches of high school players, allowing Peng’s coaches to “put in a good word” for him.

Davis had long been Peng’s dream school. He loves the educational opportunities there and plans to major in mechanical engineering. According to collegefactual.com, Davis is ranked 38th nationwide for mechanical engineering.

His commitment to Davis has made the college application process much simpler. Although Peng still has to write his essays, he only has to do so for Davis. He can also apply with the comfort of being fairly certain of his acceptance, which now mostly depends on him maintaining his grades.

Peng plans to sign the letter of intent in early November, making the entire process official. Knowing that he will lead a different life than most other students in college, he has begun to train harder, especially because he wants to become a professional player someday.  

“I know that with sports in college, I’m going to have much less time to do homework or fun stuff because I’ll be training or in practice,” Peng said. “But I’m just excited to play baseball.”

 

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