With college choice made, Norwin lefty Jayden Walker itching to pitch

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Saturday, November 28, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Jayden Walker was finally ready to pitch again last spring, nearly a year after shoulder surgery to fix a damaged labrum.

The hard-throwing lefthander was chomping at the bit and pounding his glove in anticipation of taking the mound again.

But that was when the covid-19 pandemic had just begun to sweep the country, and the PIAA soon decided to cancel spring sports, leaving the Norwin junior waiting some more.

This kid has the patience of a saint.

But with his college future secure, and the potential of a senior season happening in spring 2021, Walker is starting to build anticipation again — cautiously and anxiously.

“I am pretty much at full tilt working with all my arm care and progressions,” Walker said. “It’s been long, but I knew it would all pay off in the long run.”

The 6-foot-4 Walker signed recently with Mercyhurst of the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

He did pitch some over the summer, his return coming July 1 with Team Ohio Pro Select during a game in Alabama.

“That first pitch felt great,” he said.

He was primed to give Norwin big innings in the spring, but the shutdown squashed his return.

The term “shutdown” is something Walker would like to strike from his mind.

The setback when the high school season came around stifled teams across the state. But it also left players grasping for something hopeful to hang on to with potentially more baseball down the road.

“I was ready for high school, but then covid struck and it was a blessing and a curse,” Walker said. “It gave me some more time to really strengthen my shoulder and arm again, and I just felt like for a year and a half, I have been waiting to get on the bump and just pitch like I always do.”

Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski has coached a number of players that have gone on to play at Division I and II programs.

He has been anticipating Walker’s return to his lineup.

“I am happy that he found a place that he feels is a good fit for him,” Liebdzinski said of Mercyhurst. “I did not have a chance to see him throw this summer, but the people that did said he looked good. I think he will only get better as his arm continues to get stronger.”

Mercyhurst drew his curiosity, and a visit to Erie in August gave him reason to verbally commit to the Lakers.

“I really liked the campus and how everything is just right there at your fingertips,” he said. “Also, with baseball, I know so many kids there now, and I have three of my friends from Norwin coming up with me, and it just felt like the right fit for me and what I am looking for. The baseball program is great there, and I know what they do with pitchers in particular, which really was a key point to me.”

Norwin teammates Landon Diberadin and Jake Bazala will follow Walker to Mercyhurst. Norwin graduate Aiden Shephard is a freshman there.

Walker plans to play basketball this winter. He was one of the top big men in the Knights’ section last year and will look to provide double-doubles again as a traditional post player.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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