Senior Spotlight: After two runner-up finishes, Union’s Nate Meeks was thinking championship

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Monday, June 1, 2020 | 6:58 PM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past three years, Union shortstop Nate Meeks and the rest of his senior classmates have been building toward something special.

They made two straight trips to the WPIAL championship game and earned a third-place finish as freshmen. Heading into this season, nine of the Scotties’ top 10 hitters were returning from a year in which they went 15-5.

Before the coronavirus pandemic canceled their season, the Scotties thought they had a good chance to hoist a WPIAL trophy.

“We got second place the last two years, so for us seniors, we pretty much thought it was our year,” Meeks said. “We had matured, we were used to it, we were a lot better, and I really think we could’ve won it this year.”

For Meeks especially, this year could’ve been big. The 6-foot shortstop was on the verge of returning from an ACL injury that costed him his senior basketball season after he averaged 17.4 points per game as a junior.

Before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Meeks was motivated and was working hard in physical therapy so he could play this year. He was set to make a return in the middle of the season and was set to make a big impact.

“Once I got injured, I knew I wouldn’t be back for basketball,” Meeks said. “So I was just trying to work my hardest to get back for baseball.”

As a junior last season, Meeks produced an impressive .545 batting average with seven doubles, two triples and one home run.

In his four years, Meeks has had a special high school career with three WPIAL championship game appearances, which included one in basketball his sophomore year. But he was ready to finally break through this season on the baseball field.

“It’s been an experience. Definitely, being the first team to do that (make back-to-back WPIAL championships), it was something special.” Meeks said. “It was a heartbreaker to get second place twice, and we got second in basketball my sophomore season as well. So, we got a lot of second places and this year it would’ve been something special to get first.”

What’s your favorite memory while playing baseball for Union?

I honestly can’t pick one. With this group of kids coming all the way up through, we’ve had so many memories. It’s been really special.

Who is the one pitcher you want to face?

I’d probably say my one friend, Matt Costello. He was a senior when I was a sophomore. But I used to see him dominate kids and I would want to face him now.

How’d you start playing baseball?

It was just one of those things. My dad put me into T-ball when I was a kid and I actually hated it back then. But he made me keep playing. Once I got into coach-pitch, I started loving it and have kind of loved it ever since.

If you could change positions, where would you play?

Second base. I love to play middle infield, so I’ll stick to that.

What’s a day during quarantine look like for you?

Pretty much just wake up, do some homework, work out, play some video games. That’s about it.

Have you picked up any new hobbies?

I’ve been drawing a little more than I used to.

What’s your favorite sports memory as a fan?

Probably this year, because I was hurt during basketball season. I wasn’t technically on the team so just watching my teammates do well.

What made you want to choose California?

It was like far enough away where it was kinda like a new world and then I liked the campus. The baseball team is also pretty good and I like where they play.

What will your major be?

Computer science

If you could switch places with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Mike Trout

If you could choose anyone to give the commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

Mr. (Tom) Medved, my physics teacher.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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