Northern Star: Ben Pedersen
For this week's segment, we feature the ace on the Duluth Marshall baseball team.
DULUTH, Minn. – When you think of athletes in northern Minnesota, you think of all of the great hockey players and the kids who learned how to skate before they can walk.
But baseball is growing in the Northland, and part of the reason for that is Hilltoppers senior pitcher Ben Pedersen.
“I grew up wanting to play hockey. I broke my arm my eighth grade year in the last game of the season when I was playing JV hockey. And I started to have issues with that my freshman year. And I think I was going to have to have surgery on it, again, to get the plates removed. So I decided to try out for a winter baseball team and I made that and stopped playing hockey and it worked out for the best for me,” Pedersen said.
“There’s like a special group of players, whether it’s at one school or right now, it’s at a couple schools across the area where all of a sudden, you have some really incredible talent to take in and in those moments, it’s okay for even our great hockey bases to say, gosh, for three, four, five months, we’re going to be a baseball town in Duluth,” Duluth Marshall head coach Joe Wicklund said.
The 6’6″ right-handed pitcher has been dominant for the Hilltoppers since he made the commitment to baseball.
This season, Pedersen has posted a sub-2 ERA, struck out more than 60 batters and his fastball has topped 94 miles per hour.
“I had a big velocity spurt in my sophomore season. I went into it at like 81, came out that summer at like 91, so that kind of opened up doors for me,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen has also been strong at the plate, recording more hits than he’s allowed while spending most of the season in the cleanup spot for the Hilltoppers.
“For him to be so reliable, so consistent, and he makes adjustments, when we need a big hit he can be that guy, when we need a walk he can be that guy. He’s really a full package player, and again, of course he’s well–known for what he does 16 feet away from the plate, but what he does at the plate is pretty impressive, too,” Wicklund said.
And now Pedersen has the opportunity to play at the next level. He committed last year to play at the University of Missouri, getting the chance to compete every day against some of the best players in the country.
“A big goal for me was to play in the SEC. You get to play top 25 teams every single weekend, so that was a huge part for me. And on my visit, I just loved the coaching staff and the pitching coach,” Pedersen said.
While Pedersen is excited about going to Missouri, he could possibly hear his named called during the MLB Draft in a few weeks, as scouts are seeing exactly what Coach Wicklund now sees from his ace.
“Can you treat the sport you love as a job, but also love the sport you grew up loving? Ben’s got such a mature balance of that at such a young age. And that part I don’t know if I could have predicted when he was a 7th grader when we were playing JV games against a bunch of high school sophomores and this group not only never won, but never got close so it’s great to see him at this point in the end,” Wicklund said of Pedersen.
But for now, Pedersen has one thing on his mind: getting back to the state championship game.
“That sort of leaves a thorn in your side a little bit. But I think it’s really helped us this year to get a fire going in your stomach to really push to get back to that game again,” Pedersen said.