PNW Pioneer

Thorn thrives behind the mask

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Hunter Thorn (center), catcher, will begin his second season on the PNW baseball team in March.

Hunter Thorn (center), catcher, will begin his second season on the PNW baseball team in March.

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Hunter Thorn (center), catcher, will begin his second season on the PNW baseball team in March.

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When Hunter Thorn was 12, he won the Cooperstown Home Run Derby King of Swat award and tied the record for most home runs with eight.

“It’s the same award Bryce Harper won so that’s pretty cool to think about,” Thorn said.

Harper currently plays for the Washington Nationals and is a five-time National League All-Star who won NL MVP in 2015.

Thorn, sophomore catcher for the PNW baseball team, said every game he plays is just as exciting as his first.

“You’re about to go out there and do what you love most, show the world you’re better than this team,” Thorn said. “It’s a rush every time.”

Thorn said that growing up, and even to this day, his idol is his brother Zach. The older Thorn played outfield during his four years at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. Both brothers also majored in electrical engineering.

“Ever since I can remember, I looked up to him. He’s very smart and good at baseball. That’s what I always wanted to be,” Thorn said.

Dave Griffin, head coach of the PNW baseball team, said he heard of Thorn through friend Tim Pirowski, head coach at Portage High School where Thorn graduated from in 2016. Thorn was a part of the 2013 sectional championship team and four-year letter winner.

“I always hear talk of good people in the Region and Hunter came with a good reputation. When you watch the kid play, he plays the game hard, swings hard and is focused and driven. All the attributes in players that you want, he checks the boxes for,” Griffin said.

Thorn committed to PNW because it was close to home, affordable and offered the best opportunity for him to play.

“My first season went pretty well,” Thorn said. “As a freshman, I played more than I expected to and as a team we did pretty well.”

The team finished second in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Thorn started all of the 41 games he participated in during his freshman season. He had a team-high 29 RBIs to go along with a .313 batting average.

Thorn went on to play for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen during the summer, after having spent the previous summer as the only catcher on the Southland Vikings which was a strain on him.

Thorn said he was contacted by Adam Enright, Oilmen manager, to play for the team and enjoyed the experience because he got to play frequently and hone his skills.

Now back for his second season at PNW, Griffin said Thorn is always working to improve during practice.

“He’s not always on the same page as the pitcher, but I think that comes with time and learning each other’s habits. I think it could be a learned activity,” Griffin said. “He loves to practice, loves to play and loves to work on his game. He has a lot of confidence in himself.”

Thorn said he thinks the biggest competitors this season will be Northwood, Grand Valley State and Wayne State.

“I think we’ll do pretty good this year; we’re better as a team,” Thorn said.

He said his favorite part about being catcher is being a part of every pitch.

“The team listens to you and you really have to know a lot about the batters; their strengths and weaknesses,” Thorn said.

Thorn said that after he graduates he wants to pursue a career in his major, possibly at NIPSCO or ArcelorMittal. He is also a fan of the Chicago Cubs and attends games every year.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Thorn thrives behind the mask”

  1. Wayne Gilbert on February 5th, 2018 5:55 pm

    Sounds like another star in the making. Wish him well

    [Reply]

  2. Gordon Bloyer on February 20th, 2018 12:52 pm

    If no major league team drafts him he can come here to Eugene, Ore. The Eugene Emeralds have open tryouts and they are a Cubs farm team.

    [Reply]

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