The baseball world is abuzz with the outstanding performance of Shohei Ohtani.
The Los Angeles Angels utilityman has been a force on the mound and at the plate, selected as both a pitcher and position player for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
What he’s accomplishing isn’t lost on young athletes who are doing the same thing for their high school and college teams, including Tyler McWillie.
The product of Watrous, Saskatchewan is coming off another solid spring with Colby Community College, where he hit .375 with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in (RBI) in 42 games.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound righthander also started on the mound in 12 games, going 4-3 with a 7.76 ERA, striking out 51 batters in just over 53 innings.
The Dawgs Academy grad is continuing his strong play in the Western Canadian Baseball League (WCBL) with the Sylvan Lake Gulls. The first baseman/pitcher is hitting .333 with two homers and six RBI, while he sports a 4-1 record and a 1.08 ERA in five starts on the mound.
We caught up with the sophomore for our latest installment of 3 UP, 3 DOWN.
1. You’re a veteran of the league now after suiting up with Okotoks in 2019 for their championship run, plus you were previously exposed to the league as part of Dawgs Academy. What did you take away from that experience as you got ready to suit up for the Gulls?
I think that playing in this league in high school was really big for me because it got me ready for better competition. This league has a lot of really good players in it, so I think it’s helped me a lot.
2. We have no shortage of Colby Community College Trojans playing around the WCBL this season. What’s it like playing with and facing some of your teammates?
It’s a blast seeing all these guys because they are like brothers to me. It’s even better when we beat them because then I get the bragging rights!
3. You’re off to a great start with the Gulls. How do you keep that success going through the rest of the summer?
I think the success has been good, but I believe that our team hasn’t played to the best of its ability yet. I think we have a lot of talent and we’re just waiting until we all start clicking together.
1. You’ve played on some pretty big stages, including Team World at the Future Stars Series, the T12 showcase, and winning the Canada Cup with Team Saskatchewan. What’s been the most-memorable moment in baseball so far?
Definitely the Canada Games team. That was an experience I will never forget. We had over 7,000 fans at the gold medal game and I’m extremely grateful that Team Saskatchewan gave me the chance to not only play, but be a big part of that championship team.
2. You’ve had success as a pitcher and as a hitter. Have you been watching Shohei Ohtani and does it maybe give you something to aspire to as a two-way threat?
Shohei is a freak of nature! He’s extremely fun to watch and he does inspire me to keep doing it because I believe that being a two-way player keeps you more athletic and he’s been proving that in the big leagues.
3. Do you have any game-day superstitions or things you have to do while you’re at the park for a game?
I’m not a really big superstition guy but before every inning, when I pitch, I have to tap each toe with my glove three times in a certain order. It’s just something I have started doing and I’ve had success, so I want to keep that going!
LISTEN: Two of McWillie’s teammates at Colby, Cleary Simpson and Tucker Zdunich, joined Alberta Dugout Stories: The Podcast, recently to talk about their baseball journeys.