By Ray Hamill — Playing baseball for the Humboldt Eagles clearly means a lot to Jaden Gorge.
And in particular it will this year.
After seeing a promising spring at Shasta College taken away because of the COVID-19 crisis, the former Arcata High standout is looking forward to returning to the field of competition this summer with the Eagles.
“I’m going to play my last year with them and I’m excited about that,” he said.
After moving up from the Northern Humboldt Giants, last summer Gorge joined the Eagles 19U, a local all-star squad that would go on to finish in the final four of state competition.
More than the success, however, the college freshman relished the time playing with his teammates.
“That was super cool, especially playing with those guys,” he said. “A lot of them are guys I’ve played with before, but not in a long time, and some of them I had never played with before and got to become good friends with.”
Including Fortuna’s Cody Emmons, a teammate of Gorge on both the Eagles and Shasta.
Both players were just beginning to come into their own when the spring season was shut down.
“It was really unfortunate. We already had as many wins in conference as we had last year,” Gorge said.
The Knights were 7-17 on the season, but after a tough preseason they got going in the Golden Valley Conference, winning five of the their opening 10 games.
Gorge was batting .259 on the season, with 13 RBIs and five stolen bases.
He was getting hot at the same time as his team, posting multiple hits in three of his final four games.
“In the preseason we played a really tough schedule, so when we got to conference we were more prepared and playing better baseball and more confident,” he said.
Gorge, who won two North Coast Section titles in his four years at Arcata, was adapting well to the college game and was beginning to see the ball better.
In his own words, he “was just trying to find myself,” early in the season, and while he wasn’t hitting the ball as much as he would have liked over the first few weeks, he still had good at-bats, drawing a lot of walks and getting on base.
Shortly before the shutdown, however, he was beginning to make contact on the ball and it was showing in his play.
Emmons too was just coming into his own, in his sophomore season with the team.
“He was also starting to hit the ball better right as the season ended,” Gorge said of the former Husky. “And he made a couple of really nice plays at shortstop.”
Gorge, who is a Criminal Justice major, says he will definitely return to play at Shasta next season, and hasn’t ruled out playing there again in 2022 after receiving an extra season of eligibility due to the shutdown.
For now, he is enjoying the college life and living in Redding, where he has family.
“I really like the area. It feels like a second home to me,” he said.
He also enjoys playing with several players he knows from his days in the Big 5, including his former Arcata teammate Austin Kadle.
“It helped a lot having them there, especially Austin Kadle,” he said. “Me and Kadle have been going to the same school since preschool.”