Dane Woodcook

By Steve Mims

Dane Woodcook didn’t step to the plate in a game all spring, but showed no signs of rust once the summer got started.

The Springfield catcher ranks second in the West Coast League with a .366 batting average for the Drifters, who are in the middle of a nine-game homestand that runs through July 14. Woodcook has 26 hits – including five doubles and a triple – in 71 at-bats.
“I am confident in the training that I put in and then going out there and trusting the stuff that I have done and seeing the ball petty well,” Woodcook said. “Another key has been my mentality, if I don’t have a good day then I come back and try to have a better day the next day.”
The 6-foot-1 right-handed hitter also credits playing in front of nearly a dozen friends and family members each night at Hamlin Field as the Willamette High grad is living at home during the summer.

“I’m gone more than I am home throughout the year so I don’t see my family for months on end,” Woodcook said. “It is pretty special to me being home.”
Woodcook is spending his second summer in the WCL after playing a few games for Springfield last summer before getting most of his experience with Bend.
“It is a really cool league because you don’t see the same arms every day,” Woodcook said. “The pitching is unique so you are able to come back and see something different six days a week. I think the pitching is really good.”

After graduating from Willamette, Woodcook spent two seasons at Tacoma Community College where he started 56 of 65 games. He batted .329 as a sophomore with 23 RBIs and nine stolen bases.

“NWAAC baseball gets you prepared for anything,” Woodcook said. “There were a bunch of really good teams during both of my years there so that helped me get ready.”

Woodcock signed last year to play for new New Mexico State coach Jake Angier, who had been the pitching coach at UO. Angier’s staff includes former Sheldon baseball star David Bellamy, who played at NMSU.

“That was a cool piece that made me want to go there, having a couple Eugene guys on staff,” Woodcook said. “Angier spent a couple years at Oregon and Bellamy is from here and we both played for the Eugene Challengers so that was a cool connection to have.”

Woodcook sat out a redshirt season last year but should contend for a spot in the lineup as a junior.

“I fully expect to go back and compete for a starting role, I think we will have a competitive team that can compete to make regionals,” Woodcook said. “I think I grew a lot in my redshirt year. I watched games and sat in the dugout and listened to the coaches talk. I think it helped my confidence and my resilience because it was tough to not play all year, but I pushed myself to get in the work and that was big for me.”

Woodcook has helped the Drifters to a 12-15 mark as they seek a spot in the playoffs while he chases a batting title.

“I’m pretty happy with how our summer is going so far,” he said. “It will be challenging and different once I go back to college ball because I still have a lot to prove after not playing for a full year. I look forward to a fresh start and I will go from there.”