On two playing fields

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June 18, 2015 8:15 AM

Andrew Brethauer Photos Jerad Coghill has the distinction of being the first and only player in Lloydminster to play both midget AAA hockey and baseball in the same season. - Andrew Brethauer

Jerad Coghill has a wide set of athletic skills.

Currently he hits fastballs, shags fly balls in deep centre field and throws from the mound as part of the Northwest Prairie Pirates pitching staff. He is one of the more versatile players the Pirates have, leading the team in runs batted in (17), most games pitched in (8), is second on the team in at-bats (57), and is one of two pitchers with a complete game and one of two batters on the Pirates who have hit a home run this season.

He also carries a .333 batting average with a 5.58 ERA this season, his second with the midget AAA baseball club.

More often than not, those number would suffice for an elite athlete at the AAA level, but for Coghill, it is only half of his skill set as an athlete. The other half are made up on the ice, as the baseball player by spring and summer is a stout blueliner by winter, and has suited up for the midget AAA Lloydminster Bobcats for past two seasons, and even appeared with the Lloydminster Bobcats junior A team in five games as well.

But if you were to ask him which he prefers right now, the answer may surprise you.

See “Coghill,” Page 29

“Right now I am really loving baseball,” said Coghill. “Both are great sports, but I think I like baseball better. If I could choose, I would probably play baseball in the future.”

That isn’t to say Coghill dislikes his time at the rink, as his coaches have said his attitude at the ball diamond is more so of a hockey player. But the left handed batting, right handed throwing ball player enjoys the versatility of baseball, being able to contribute offensively and defensively for the Pirates, whereas in hockey, he is known for being a stay-at-home defenceman. He had only one goal and five points with the Bobcats last season and three goals and five points the year before.

With the Pirates in two seasons, he has 24 RBIs and 13 starts as a pitcher.

“I’m kind of a more versatile player in baseball,” said Coghill. “In hockey I’m more known as a defensive guy. It’s good to be know as more than just one dimensional player.”

While there are few similarities between baseball and hockey, for Coghill, the most notable is the mental aspect of the game and how he prepares for it. For years he has been preparing for grinding hockey seasons that span upwards of 50 games a season, going to the rink five times a week all winter long in preparation for the weekends games.

It all worked out from a hockey standpoint, as Coghill was drafted 132nd overall in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft by the Vancouver Giants.

But now he applies that same preparedness for hockey to baseball, and the lighter schedule of practice has given him an edge, at least when it comes to the mental side of the game.

“It’s all mental, I’d say more than half the game,” said Coghill. “Getting ready, just forgetting if you had a bad inning or bad shift in hockey, or you made an error in the field. Most of what you need is mental in both of the games.”

Going to the rink every day does take its toll on a player, to the point Coghill admits, you get tired of going to the rink. But in baseball, where they practice twice a week and games are mostly played as doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday, he never gets tired of showing up at the ballpark and seeing the same people every single day.

“That is what makes it that enjoyable,” said Coghill. “Don’t get me wrong, the hockey teams are all great, but in baseball you get the same team every year so you really get to know the guys and you get to become best friends with those other 12 or 13 players that you are already with.”

With the success he is having on the diamond, it should come as little surprise that Coghill’s future will be on the diamond and not at the rink. After a hockey career that has spanned most of his young life, the 18-year-old is hanging up the skates next season, electing to focus on playing baseball, even if just at the senior level.

“I feel I’ve had enough of (hockey),” said Coghill. “I had a great time, but I think it is time to move on with my life and figure things out for the future. I’ll probably play senior ball here in town, but I don’t have too many specific plans for baseball or hockey.”

For now, though, with the Pirates looking to make a push for the provincial championship and a trip to nationals, Coghill will be happy out in the field, helping the team with what he can do at the plate or the mound, bringing his skills to each inning and each at bat, as he continues to be a leader in his last midget AAA year in any sport.

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