“It’s just the beginning”: SRHS Grad Hayden Hattenbach on His D1 Baseball Journey

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Daniel Dunn, Contributor

Hayden Hattenbach is a freshman pitcher for UC-Santa Barbara, a Division one baseball program, which takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Hayden is now one step closer to becoming every little kid’s dream of becoming a professional athlete, but this is only the beginning.

For most people, getting to where he is at seems almost unattainable, but Hattenbach thinks he hit the genetic lottery. He calls this the athlete gene.  

“Literally from the very first day I started to play baseball, I could hit it harder than everyone else, throw harder, and I was just naturally gifted at it. I didn’t even really put in work into baseball until high school. Both my parents were very very tall and neither of them played sports, but on my mom’s side all three of her brothers were very competitive hockey players. So there’s some sort of athletic gene in my family, and I got it. This also mixes well with the height genetics,” says Hattenbach.

Hayden did not focus too much on baseball in little league. He played baseball to have fun with his friends. He didn’t put a lot of work in. Then Hayden met his travel baseball coach, Charles Scott, who became a big part of how he got where he is today. He would set objectives for Hayden. He saw the potential in Hayden and told him that he could have a future in baseball. 

Charles was an ex MLB scout, and happens to be best friends with Barry Bonds, an ex MLB superstar. Charles knows a lot about the game, especially the scouting aspect of baseball. He has multiple friends that are scouts for MLB teams, and is very connected to the MLB. 

From when Charles first started coaching Hayden he always would tell him, “The sky’s the limit, and whatever he wants to do in baseball is not out of reach.” 

Charles could always see that Hayden was naturally gifted, and realized just how good he could be if he kept on working. Up until about age 14, Hayden was coached by Scott on his travel ball team. During this time he wasn’t too worried about the recruiting for Hayden, because at this point Hayden was still fighting for playing time. 

When Hayden got to high school he thought he might want to play baseball in college, but had no idea how to get there.

“If Charles didn’t step in and tell me that I needed to go and play travel ball, you need to do this, you need to go do this, you need to do that, then I probably thought I could just play MCALS and get recruited from there. But knowing now, there is no way you can just get recruited from playing MCALS. He gave me a road map and told me how to get to the next step in baseball and how to take it more seriously. This helped because me and my parents were totally clueless about how to do any of this,” says Hattenbach.

Every level higher that you go to, the workload increases dramatically. The higher you go the more it becomes a job. You have to put a lot more effort in and practices are longer and harder. They become more dependent on your work ethic outside of practice.

“We haven’t started practices yet, but from what I understand, the average schedule would be: weights in the morning, classes until about 1 or 2, a four hour practice, more work, then you do whatever you want at night. It’s pretty demanding, busy-ness wise, because you are always at the field, which is not the case in high school. Baseball becomes like a full-time job in college. The difficulty of practices always depends, but you should always be working your hardest every single time you go to work out,” says Hattenbach. 

Outside of baseball he is a very kind person. Many of his teammates say he is a joy to be around. He is a very funny kid and always brings laughter to his team. 

Drew Caveney, an alumni of SRHS and former teammate of Hayden, speaks on Hayden about how good of a teammate and a friend he is.

“I was lucky enough to be able to play both basketball and baseball with Hayden. I never became that close with Hayden until my senior year. We developed a really strong bond during our senior year basketball season. I got to really see just how great of an athlete, and a person Hayden is. Hayden was probably one of the most dedicated people I had ever met. Hayden would skip out on parties and stupid stuff, because he knew that his athletic career was more important. He had his priorities right, and was smart enough to make the right decisions. Hayden was also always just a joy to be around. Hayden is a very genuine person and a great friend. I have high hopes for him and I really do believe he could make it if he continues to put the work in,” says Caveney.

Hayden described his journey and his baseball career so far and what’s coming.

“It is just the beginning, there is a lot of character aspect to being a college player, and being an eventual pro player. The hard work, focus, attention to detail stuff like that I have only really started to develop this past half year. I am curious to see where I can go with my natural ability and putting in a lot of work,” says Hattenbach.

Maybe one day we will see Hayden pitching in the MLB. But for now, it’s just the beginning.