2020 Pre Season Interview with Liam Ballance
Posted February 7, 2020
VIU Mariners veteran Liam Ballance is gearing up for his final season on the diamond. Liam has long been a centerpiece of the Mariners, and is currently the career leader in 6 different offensive categories. We sat down with Liam to ask him some questions about the 2020 season and his career.
Q: The Mariners are opening the season in Arizona this year. What part of the spring trip do you look forward to the most every year?
A: I always love getting to catch a spring training game. I wish the New York Yankees had their Spring Training facility in Phoenix! But the thing I'm looking forward to the most is playing the game I love. Fall ball is fun and we get a lot of work done in the winter, but nothing beats playing in the sun.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most going into your final season as a Mariner?
A: Being out on the field one last time with my buddies and fighting to win the championship in my final year. Getting to play the game I love is a blessing that I don’t take for granted, but nothing compares to the bonds and friendships I have made in my time here.
Q: What do you see as the strengths of the team this year?
A: We are a really tight knit group. Every year we pull for each other, but this year everyone is working really hard together and it has brought us closer. Another of our major strengths is we have quite a few returners who are coming into their prime as college players. We are solid 1-9, which means we don't need to play hero ball. Everyone is ready to pass it on to the next guy.
Q: What would winning a championship in your final year mean to you?
A: I want to go out on the best note I can. Not just for myself, but for the team, the program, and the city. And getting to party pretty hard after! We have all been working hard to play the best baseball we can this year. We have a good pitching staff and lineup; if we can stay healthy I like our chances.
Q: You currently hold the career records in 6 offensive categories and are top 10 in 12 of the 14. How do you feel about statistically being the best and most consistent hitter in VIU history?
A: It's nice to have success and I am proud of it. It is always nice to get recognized for the hard work and commitment you put in, but none of the individual success is as important as the team’s success.
Q: The past two years have been good years for the team offensively, setting records in 6 categories. How does it feel to be a part of those groups?
A: It's nice to have success as a group. In 2017 we didn't have much team success. Although it was one of my better years, it wasn't as fun as other years. I would get 2 hits every game, but if we still lost so my success didn’t feel as important. In 2018 guys like Brodan Bydeweg, Lucas Galloway, and other guys had great years and we were able to have success as a group which.
Q: Who are you counting on to help you the most this year?
A: It’s nice to have a freshman like Trent Lawson who can step in and help immediately. We also have returners like Zeke Holt, Dylan Kirby, and Conor Bronson who are due for breakout seasons. They have put in a ton of work, in the weight room as well as the cage. We have always worked hard, but this year is different. We are all putting in more work than ever before and that is giving us confidence going into the season.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories as a Mariner?
A: Winning the Fall World Series my Freshman year. I wasn't picked high so I wanted to do well to prove myself to the team. I remember I made a couple big plays and was a major part of the offense and felt like I established myself as a key part of the team.
Q: In your career as a university baseball player, what lessons have stuck with you the most?
A: How important experience and good leadership are to a team. I was a stud in high school and thought it would just be more of the same in university, but there is a huge difference in the level of ball and the wear and tear of a heavily condensed season. When I first showed up, leaders on the team like Tyson Dyck, Tyler Armstrong, and Tyler Ulrich put me in my place a bit and really showed me how to act as a university baseball player. Now I’m a veteran and I try to follow their example of setting an example through my actions and holding people accountable. The biggest thing is treating people with respect, no matter what their role on the team is. I have taken those lessons with me not only on the team over the years but into the youth camps we do with NMBA.