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Murray Journal

Ready for the next level, Reece closes out Murray baseball career

May 07, 2024 12:48PM ● By Ella Joy Olsen

“Being a leader is something I have learned to become and is now by far the most important thing I bring to the team,” says Murray High’s Jacob Reece. Reece, a senior, is a catcher for the Spartan basaeball team. He started playing baseball through his dad’s love for the game and, ironically, his passion for golf. (Photo courtesy Marce Wilson)

In baseball, it’s no secret that catchers can take a beating. 

After years of playing the position, Murray’s Jacob Reece, a senior, has seen just about everything from behind the plate. The physical toll has been significant, but Reece has continued to come to work every day practice and games, ready to do his job and help the Spartans win. 

Head coach Marce Wilson has nothing but praise for Reece and the efforts he has made for the team. 

“He’s sacrificed himself behind the plate for us for three years on varsity, catching thousands of pitches and numerous styles of pitchers,” Wilson said. “He’s played through injury after injury. He gets beat up every game spring, summer and fall. That being said, he’s also one of the best catchers in all of Utah.” 

Reece’s baseball career started several years ago, and some of the influences that got him started may be surprising. 

“I have been playing baseball since as far back as I can remember,” he said. “There are really only two things that got me into baseball that I can think of. The first thing that got me started in baseball was my dad. My whole life, my dad has loved baseball; baseball always felt very familiar in my house. The second thing, as strange as it might sound, is golf. When I was younger, I was obsessed with golf, and that was all I did. I would take a wooden spoon and my brother’s foam golf balls and hit them around the house. I think the love of hitting a ball with some sort of stick just stuck with me. And once I got a little bit older, I started playing baseball in the front yard with friends, and I fell in love with it.”

In all his years of playing, it isn’t necessarily winning big games or making crucial plays that has stuck with Reece. He said the best part of playing baseball is being around his teammates and creating lasting friendships.

“I would have to say my favorite part about the sport is the brotherhood,” he said. “The camaraderie that you form with your teammates in baseball is like none other, and it’s crazy how fast those bonds are created.”

Reece has been a part of the Spartans’ program for four years. During that time, he has experienced a lot of ups and downs. This season has been a good one for Murray. Competing in Class 5A’s Region 4 (unlike other sports where Murray is a 4A program), the Spartans were 14-3 overall and 11-1 in league play as of April 25. Murray was 18-9 overall last season and 12-6 in Region 6. 

Reece is grateful to be a Spartan and loves playing for Wilson. In fact, Reece was slated to attend Taylorsville High School but opted to come to Murray after eighth grade, largely because of Wilson and his coaching influence. 

“I would say one of the best things about playing at Murray is playing for coach Wilson; playing for him is the whole reason I came to Murray in the first place,” Reece said. “A majority of the seniors, including myself, transferred here to Murray High School to not only play together but to play for coach Wilson. It was a big life change when I decided to leave Taylorsville back in eighth grade. But after sweeping them [April 16, 17, 19], it really helped me to realize I truly made the right decision.”

Playing catcher is no easy task. It takes a lot of skill and concentration, not to mention physical strength and endurance. But Reece loves the position, despite its challenges. Not only has he mastered the skills and tactics necessary to play catcher, but he has learned other aspects about it as well. These traits have helped him develop into a leader for the Murray team. 

“As a catcher, I have many different jobs and things that I have to bring to the table,” he said. “It is a defense first position, meaning I cannot let my hitting affect the way I play defensively. When I was a freshman or sophomore, coach Wilson showed me ‘the Catchers Pie Chart,’ which shows what are the most important aspects of being a catcher. That pie chart has practically become my bible. The different sections of the pie chart include things like game management, blocking, receiving, throwing and other skills. But the most important piece is the leadership section. Being a leader is something I have learned to become and is now by far the most important thing I bring to the team.”

Reece is humble and teachable too. He recognizes there are still things he can do better to help the Spartans. 

“Baseball wise, I’m hoping to improve everything,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m done learning and growing in this game yet. Luckily for me, I’m going to go play ball in college and will have more opportunities to improve in this game.”

After graduating, Reece will head to Columbia Basin College in Washington, a junior college. He hopes to move from there to a four-year school to continue his education and baseball career. 

This season has been a successful one for Reece and the Spartans. As of April 25, Murray was sixth in the RPI rankings. Reece is optimistic about the team’s chances at the state tournament, which starts May 11. 

“My goal as a team is—I would think is very obvious—win a state title,” he said. “That is my ultimate team goal for the year. I expect us to make a good run at it in the playoffs, and only time will tell. My goal individually for this season is to just play good overall every game. I want to leave the field every day thinking I contributed to my team and to the game the best that I could.”

Success has not come easy for Reece, and it hasn’t come without some challenges and obstacles. 

Reece suffered a wrist injury last summer, which required surgery in October. After the surgery came a 3 ½-month recovery, which Reece said he was lucky to “bounce back from quickly.” But the physical effects weren’t the only difficult issues. 

“The hardest part about the injury and recovery was the mental side of it all,” he said. “Going to practice every day, not being able to throw, swing and work on catching drills was killing me and mentally draining me. But I still went every day and worked on what I could. After going through that injury, my love for the game became bigger than ever, and I now try my best to truly enjoy every moment and not take anything for granted. One day, my baseball career will sadly have to come to an end, but I now know the importance of being appreciative of every second I get to spend on the field.” λ