(Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

If you would have seen me as a sophomore in high school, you wouldn't have thought I would have even been in consideration for the draft.

I went to Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, which has one of the top athletic programs of any high school in the country. As a sophomore I had yet to crack the starting lineup, and I just wasn't reaching my potential - either as a baseball player or as a Christian. It was around that point that I started working out with a trainer who still mentors me to this day.

He gave me a verse Matthew 6:33, which has become my motto in my life. "But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

I would say that even though I was maybe a believer before then, I was really only saved after hearing that verse. I started to put God first in my life, and I've never looked back since. I suddenly had a greater purpose in my life, and even though I don't think it had anything to do with my transformation as a baseball player, by the time I was a junior I had cracked the starting lineup.

Don’t get me wrong, God definitely blessed me with the people he surrounded me with, the chances He gave me, and the ability to improve my athletic skill set, but a problem I see a lot of young athletic Christians get into is this idea that if we believe in God and what Jesus did, then our baseball career will be blessed and you’ll be a big leaguer. That’s not what God does.

Yes, He is able to bless your career, and He will, but even if He doesn’t, He’s still God! (Daniel 3) God wants to bless you in all that you do, but His end goal isn’t to make your baseball career more successful—He cares about saving your life and saving others through you, and if it’s through baseball that He does it, praise God!

(Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics)

As for those days at Bishop Gorman, considering everyone in our lineup - as well as all of our starting pitchers and bullpen relievers - went on to play D1 baseball, it felt like an accomplishment just to be starting.

I technically could have gone out for the draft after my high school senior year, but I knew that realistically there was no way I was getting drafted in the early rounds back then. So I started to look at where to play college baseball, and Stanford was an easy choice. You could even say it was the obvious choice.

It's got the best combination of athletics and academics of any school in the country. There's literally current and future Gold Medalists walking around our campus, and I feel like once you get a degree from Stanford, you can achieve just about anything you want. To top it all off, we have the best coaching staff here in the country.

It was an easy pick to come here, but when I walked off our field last year, I was almost certain that it was the last time I would ever get to play here.

It was just a few weeks before the draft, so when we hosted Fullerton in the NCAA Regionals I knew it might be the last time I ever played at the legendary venue known as Sunken Diamond.

We were hosting Cal-State Fullerton last year, and even though the Titans have a great program, we were heavy favorites to win. Fullerton was 34-23 going into that game while we were 46-11 and were the # 2 team in the country.

We weren't just favorites to win this game, we were a popular pick to get to Omaha and win the entire thing.

But sometimes in baseball the hits just don't come. We lost our first game to Fullerton 2-1, which put us in a must-win position the next day. And yet, with the season riding on this game, we struck out 15 times.

The loss was devastating, but sometimes the hardest things in life can turn out to be blessings in disguise.

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Thomas Hager