Soft Spoken Speedster
April 19, 2001
By Mike Kreiger
Theodore Roosevelt always said, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick.' For Evan Hecker, those are words to live by.
Hecker is the leader of the 2001 WSU baseball team. The junior outfielder from Seattle may not be very vocal, but when he talks, people always listen.
'He is the quiet leader,' new Head Coach Tim Mooney said. 'He has this sense of knowing what to expect, and he's not afraid. He's got an `I can do this' attitude and others feed off of him.'
'I don't talk a lot when I'm on the field,' Hecker said. 'I just try to go about the game my own way. I'm one of the older guys who has been around a while. The younger guys tend to listen to the older guys more. They might take it to heart more.'
Hecker can give advice and knows what to expect because he has started for the Cougars since his freshman season. As the leadoff hitter, his mentality is simple.
'I just try to get on base,' Hecker said 'I want to be a spark plug at the top of the order. It's fun being leadoff and running the bases. I try to read the ball in the dirt and in the gaps and try to get that extra base. My job is to get on and score runs.'
He has hit both first and second in the Cougar lineup, and has played both leftfield and centerfield.
'It's all pretty much the same,' Hecker said. 'Centerfield has more responsibility because you have more ground to cover. I have to tell guys where to set up. Outfield is outfield, just run and catch it.'
Hecker's most recent heroics came against the California Bears at Berkeley, March 23. Hecker's four hits propelled the Cougars to an 8-6 victory over California in WSU's Pac-10 opener. That effort was nearly as noteable as Hecker's early-season success against UNLV when he went five-for-five with a home run.
'I was just seeing the ball well,' Hecker said. 'It was a left-handed pitcher, and I normally don't hit lefties as well. When I see it, the ball looks like a beach ball. When I'm not seeing it, it looks like a little pea.'
With the new coaching staff taking over this year, Hecker has seen some much-needed improvements.
'I've noticed changes for the better,' Hecker said. 'We're a lot more organized. We pay more attention to detail. The chemistry of team is good. Everybody gets along great. Our seniors are really good and helping out the younger guys.'
There are goals in Hecker's mind with both personal and team aspirations.
'I would like to be All-Pac-10, maybe honorable mention,' said Hecker. 'Our team goal would be to make it to the regional and go as far as we can.'
A general studies major, Hecker is not yet sure what he wants to do for a career, but for now he is content with playing baseball and being a student.
'That's why I came here to WSU,' Hecker said. 'I wanted the opportunity to start right away and play against the best competition in the nation.'
Mooney is glad he inherited a quality, low-maintenance player like Hecker, a versatile athlete who also was a football star at Seattle's Eastside Catholic High.
'Now as we're getting into the season, he gives our younger players confidence,' Mooney said. 'He has established his role, and others see it and work harder. He's done this all before and he's confident that he'll do it again.'
Hecker has some people he would like to thank for getting him where he is today.
'My dad (William) has been a big influence,' Hecker said. 'He coached when I was in little league. Now he just sits back and watches.'
A USA Today All-American in high school, Hecker is currently living his dream in college. He's playing in arguably the best baseball conference in the country, and when he speaks, people always listen. Next on the list is to break the Cougars' ten-year drought in post-season play.