WHEN IT MATTERS MOST, NICK SPRENGEL IS AT HIS BEST
Ever since he can remember, Nick Sprengel ’19 has wanted the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Whether it was throwing the last strike in a backyard wiffle ball session growing up or taking the mound for the USA National Collegiate Team in front of a sold-out stadium crowd, he’s never shied away from the big moment.
“That’s the opportunity you live for; helping your team when they need you the most,” he says. “I want that chance to make the difference between winning and losing.”
As the ace of the USD men’s baseball pitching staff, Sprengel eagerly anticipates those kinds of white-knuckle moments. It drives him to be at his best when the Toreros need him most.
Case in point: USD had struggled to put together wins early in their 2018 campaign, and Sprengel wanted to do whatever he could to help right the ship. Unfortunately for the University of Houston Cougars, that meant allowing only one hit over six innings, and striking out nine of the 20 batters. USD prevailed 7-4, and coaches and teammates were quick to sing his praises.
“Nick’s stuff is as good as anyone in the country,” USD pitching coach Nathan Choate says. “He loves the opportunity to prove that every time he goes out there.”
An all-state performer and high school pitcher-of-the-year in 2015, Sprengel had top-level college baseball programs knocking on his door. But a trip down the I-5 freeway was all he needed to make his decision.
“USD had expressed interest in me after my sophomore year in high school, so I went down to visit some friends of mine who went to school here. All it took was a trip around campus, and I was sold.”
If Sprengel isn’t working on his fastball or slider, you’re likely to find him honing his skills on a surfboard — his second passion. While a few good waves might go a long way in soothing the spirit after a tough loss, Sprengel doesn’t have much experience in that regard, given that he’s lost only one game in the past two years at USD. That impressive resume has earned him All-WCC First Team honors, as well as a spot on the USA Collegiate National Team.
“My experience on the national team will stay with me forever,” he says. “Playing with and against the best college players in the country can only make you better.”
Pro scouts enthuse about Sprengel’s impressive array of pitches, but none of that matters right now, as there’s still work to be done in his time at USD.
“We haven’t been to the conference tournament in the past two years, and my focus is making sure we get there.” — Mike Sauer