by Steve Mims
Decker Stedman is heading home for the summer.
The Thurston graduate who is wrapping up his junior season at Lewis-Clark State has signed to play for the Springfield Drifters in the West Coast League, a collegiate wood-bat league featuring some of the top player in the country. It will mark the second straight summer in the WCL for Stedman, who spent last year with the Bend Elks after playing in the Northwoods League for Waterloo in 2021.
“I preferred the West Coast League over Northwoods,” Stedman said. “I enjoyed my time in Bend throwing for the Elks. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people. I am excited and definitely feel like I am prepared for this summer.”
Stedman’s parents, Kelly and Lisa, will be regulars at Hamlin Field along with other friends and family members. Tickets are on sale now as the Drifters prepare to open the season against Port Angeles on June 2nd.
“That used to be an old natural-grass field,” Stedman recalled of Hamlin during his days at Thurston. “With what they have done, it is a beautiful park. I got to play a few games there and every time it has been amazing. It will be fun to have all my family and friends come watch. Having a couple of my current teammates with me during the summer will be fun.”
Stedman will be joined by Lewis-Clark first baseman Charlie Updegrave and pitcher Zach Ediger. The Warriors are 33-16 and headed to the NAIA World Series, which they host in Lewiston, Idaho next week.
“It is pretty exciting, it’s getting crazy,” Stedman said. “Lewiston is a complete baseball town. They live and die by it here so that is super fun. The first time I came here on a visit, I fell in love with this area. There are a lot of great people here.”
Stedman was the Class 5A player of the year as a senior at Thurston when he batted .505 with nine homers and 36 RBIs while compiling a 1.56 ERA with 113 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.
He signed with Oregon and spent two seasons as a two-way player with the Ducks. He went 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA for UO while also playing a few games at first base.
He spent last season as a two-way player at Linn-Benton Community College before transferring to Lewis-Clark. The 6-foot-3 lefty is 4-0 in 11 games with the Warriors, including seven starts.
“I prefer being a starter, but at the end of the day I just want to pitch and help my team win, that is how I look at it,” Stedman said.
Stedman has been exclusively a pitcher during his first season at L-C State, but that could change next year.
“Coming off summer ball, my shoulder was banged up and they thought I tore my labrum and would need surgery, but that was not the case,” he said. “I rehabbed for about 10 weeks and was able to get healthy to start the season. I have always been a two-way, but my main focus has always been that I’m a little better at pitching than hitting. When I was recruited here, they knew I could swing it, but then when I was hurt at the start of the year I thought that I should focus on pitching and come back to hitting after that gets dialed in. We have such a good lineup this yea, I didn’t put any thought into swinging it this year, but I will push for it more next year while also pitching.”
Stedman may also get a chance to hit and pitch when he returns to his hometown with the Drifters next month.