The Lewis & Clark baseball team is having one of its best seasons in recent memory, as their record of 15-12 has them only a half game back from a spot in the Northwest Conference (NWC) Playoff Tournament. With six wins in their past nine games, and a five game win streak earlier in the season, the Pios have fully come into their own as the season has progressed.
As one of the team’s leaders, third baseman Jack Thomson ’22 has had a major impact on their success. The 4-year starter has amassed an impressive resume throughout his time at LC, garnering 125 hits and 111 runs through only 111 career games. This year, he is leading all of Division III baseball in several statistical categories, including home runs, doubles, walks and runs scored.
In the past two weeks, Thomson has twice been named the NWC Position Player Student-Athlete of the Week for his performance. When asked about the strides he has taken this year, Thomson credits Hitting Coach Eric Del Prado, who he says helped him improve his swing over the years.
“He does a great job not just with me but with all the hitters,” Thomson said. “He puts in a ton of time and effort, and I kind of just listen to what he says. It’s seemed to work so far.”
According to Thomson, Del Prado has occasionally had the players wear eye patches during batting practice in order to improve their eye hand coordination and visual awareness. Although unorthodox, the technique has paid dividends on the field, where the Pios are averaging nearly nine runs a game and are ranked third in the nation in home runs. Thomson fondly recalls how Del Prado was labeled a “madman” upon making the change.
As a coach, Del Prado has been thoroughly impressed with Thomson’s growth as both a player and teammate. Having joined the coaching staff the same year Thomson came to LC, he has enjoyed being able to work with him these past four years.
“Jack has had an incredible impact on our program,” Del Prado said. “He shows up to work everyday and takes great pride in all the work that he does, which definitely rubs off on all of his teammates.”
Thomson’s strong passion for baseball influenced his decision to attend LC. Growing up in Millbrae, Calif., he quickly developed a love for the sport after playing it at a young age. Upon meeting Head Coach Matt Kosderka, he was struck by his firm belief in what the team would eventually be able to accomplish.
“Coach Matt Kosderka was hired the year before, and he kind of sold me on the vision he had for the program,” Thomson said. “I wanted to be a part of something to try to turn the program around and get it headed in the right direction.”
Four years later, the Pios have been able to do just that. Their 15 wins this season marks the most they have had in over two decades, and they are leading the nation in several offensive categories. Just one season removed from going 9-23, the team is now squarely in the mix to make the conference playoffs.
For Thomson, the success this year has been especially gratifying, as it represents the culmination of everything he and his teammates have been working toward.
“The whole goal my three years, and the guys in my class and the guys ahead of me, was to try to create a culture of winning, of doing things the right way,” Thomson said. “(Knowing) that eventually the hard work would pay off. Even though it took us four years, it’s nice to see some wins going up on the scoreboard.”
Throughout the season, Thomson has placed an emphasis on being a leader, specifically by mentoring some of the younger players and being more vocal. Kosderka initially encouraged him to take on this role, and he has fully embraced it as one of the more experienced players.
Pitcher Ryan Harvey ’25 attests to the leadership Thomson has shown this season.
“He’s a very team-focused guy,” Harvey said. “He really cares about winning, other people succeeding. You can just tell he really cares for the program as a whole.”
Moving forward, Thomson and his teammates will try to finish the rest of the season on a high note. With six conference games on tap, and eleven more overall, the Pios will continue to make a push toward the NWC playoff tournament. Although they have exceeded expectations so far, Thomson insists the work is not over.
“Before the season, our goal every year has been to finish in that top four so that we make the conference tournament,” Thomson said. “If you can get into the dance, anything can happen.”