It took a while for Western Nebraska Community College’s Esai Hernandez to find a college to attend, but after playing for the Western Nebraska Pioneers, a collegiate summer wood bat league, Hernandez found the perfect school, inking with Mount Marty College, an NAIA school in Yankton, South Dakota.
“I chose Mount Marty because of the opportunity given to me,” Hernandez, a Gering High graduate, said. “It also makes it easier to choose Mount Marty when a teammate of mine is going there and I have already starting building a relationship with one of the coaches.”
Mount Marty became a perfect fit after former Cougar Claude Bova inked to attend the NAIA school in early June. Plus, Pioneers pitching coach Josh Teichroew is an assistant coach at Mount Marty and helped recruit both Hernandez and Bova.
“It was a little difficult finding a college, but it’s relaxing now to finally know where I’m going,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s going to be fun and definitely a new experience being in a different town,” Hernandez said. “I do not know anyone else that is going there.”
Knowing Teichroew was a plus in selecting Mount Marty to continue his collegiate playing while getting his education.
“Playing for the Pioneers helped me because the assistant coach for the pioneers is the pitching coach up there [at Mount Marty] and I am seeing pitching and level that is higher,” he said. “The expedition league has helped a lot with my game so far.”
Hernandez spent three seasons at WNCC, red-shirting his freshman year and playing the last two. Hernandez was a mainstay in the starting lineup last season for the Cougars. This past season, Hernandez batted .241 with 22 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and five doubles.
Hernandez, who said he was also looking at Ottawa University and William Woods University, said he has grown a lot as a baseball player since playing American Legion baseball for Platte Valley Companies.
“My season at WNCC didn’t go as well as I thought,” he said. “But I have improved tremendously since legion ball.”
His improvement can be seen during the Western Nebraska Pioneer games. Hernandez has been a fixture in the lineup for the Pioneers this summer. Hernandez has appeared in 25 games for the 19-10 Pioneers, while batting .286 with two doubles, a triple, 11 runs scored and seven RBIs.
Hernandez said playing for the Pioneers is fun, especially playing with guys from other collegiate baseball teams.
“Playing for the pioneers is fun,” he said. “The guys, the coaches, the fans, and the experience is just so much fun.”
Hernandez plans to major in secondary education in history at Mount Marty.