Prep of the Year Honorable Mention: Nicholas Welch

Camille Ray

Ever since Nicholas Welch joined the varsity baseball team his sophomore year, he has been an integral part of their overall success. Whether it’s striking out dozens of opponents in playoff games or shutting down pitchers on the other side of the field as a batter, Welch has worked tremendously hard to make his contributions meaningful. 

Welch was on pace for a stellar senior season with his team’s previous season MCAL title motivating their pursuits. Although the baseball season ended abruptly as a result of school closures, Welch batted .389, had seven hits, one RBI, two runs scored and had an on base average percentage of .421 for his 2019-2020 season, according to MaxPreps. 

From haphazardly swinging a plastic bat during T-Ball at age eight to becoming the varsity starting pitcher his sophomore year of high school, Welch has dedicated thousands of hours to his development as a baseball player. 

“When I was younger, I basically played all sports, but I stuck with baseball for all these years because even though it was the one I was best at, I also really enjoyed myself while I was playing it. Being on the field and at practice really brought me a lot of joy,” Welch said.

Winding up to pitch, Nicholas Welch stares down his competition.

All of the training and experience greatly prepared Welch for the intense baseball program at Redwood. According to Coach Mike Firenzi, Welch has improved immensely and this past season, Welch was able to play both out the mound and from the plate. 

“Being a starting pitcher, when he had a good game, the team usually had a good game. Normally, we keep him only as a pitcher, but we also let him back this year to hit for us. He hit really well and really contributed to our success,” Firenzi said.

According to Jackson Reed, Welch’s baseball teammate and friend since Little League, Welch’s improvement and dedication over the years has made him the example for fellow teammates who wanted to contribute to their team’s success as well. 

“He has a lot of mental strength. Last year during our playoff game against Marin Catholic, he pitched his butt off. In the game before, he didn’t have the best outings, but at this important game, it was great to see him bounce back and just absolutely dominate on the mound. He can just flip the switch and put everything behind him and focus enough to dominate,” Reed said.   

While Welch may be leaving the Redwood field behind, he will carry all of the lessons he has learned from both his teammates and coach to his new team, the University of California, Santa Barbara Gauchos next year. 

“At Redwood, I felt like the leader of the pack, but at Santa Barbara, I’m just going to start as one of those random new guys. I’m excited to prove myself and be the best I can be there,” Welch said. 

As the next chapter in Welch’s life brings a multitude of new opportunities to develop and grow as a player, he admits his time on the Redwood baseball team meant more than winning a couple of titles and will be greatly missed. 

“Playing for Redwood was special because when you play for your school, it feels bigger than you,” Welch said. “I felt like when I put on my jersey I wasn’t just representing myself; I was also representing everyone in the past. Every time I stepped on the field; it made me want to prove I could live up to the baseball legacy.”