Healthy Bednar off to big start for Mississippi St.

May 20, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports

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Mars graduate Will Bednar prepares to deliver a pitch for Mississippi State early this season.

Will Bednar wanted to be out on the mound last spring for his team.

He wanted to show off a fastball that clocked in the 90s.

He wanted to buckle knees with his breaking stuff, including a hard slider.

But he couldn't.

His arm wouldn't allow it.

“I had a really good feeling about the season,” Bednar said. “It was rough not to be out there.”

Instead, Bednar nursed the bicep tendonitis that cost him his senior high school season at Mars and readied himself for the next stage of his career at Mississippi State.

With his arm sound, Bednar took what his pitching coach Scott Foxhall called his “relaxed aggression” to the hill this spring for the Bulldogs and dominated.

In 15 1/3 innings, the 6-foot-2, 229-pound Bednar struck out 23 and posted a 1.76 ERA.

The freshman right-hander pitched so well, he worked his way into the starting rotation.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and the season was canceled.

Bednar found himself very much in the same place he was last spring at Mars.

Idle with no batters to face.

“It stunk,” Bednar said. “I was looking forward to the season and with playing with some of these guys who are unreal. I knew we were going to go far.”

Bednar was unreal at times on the mound.

A video of his filthy stuff — a moving fastball and a sweeping slider — went viral online and had people gasping in the comments section.

His development came not by accident.

Bednar comes from a baseball family. His father, Andy, played in college and coached the Mars baseball team for many years during two stints. His brother, David, made his Major League Baseball debut with the San Diego Padres last fall and pitched well.

Will said his friendly rivalry with his brother fires them both up.

“I always joke with him that I'm going to be better than him,” Will said, laughing. “That I throw harder than him. It's good competition. He's a great influence. It's great talking to him and picking his brain.”

It also helps that he and his father built a mound at their Valencia home this spring.

The pair toiled away at it, constructing it next to their batting cage, which Will said was ironic because, “Neither my brother or I hit.”

When the mound was finally completed, Will was amazed at how good it was.

“It turned out pretty great,” Will said. “I didn't think two dudes like me and my dad could pull it off.”

Will, though, hasn't had much opportunity to use it because of the weather this spring.

Will does plan on using it to get ready for a possible fall season.

Foxhall said he will give his pitchers a regime to keep their arms sound.

Mostly, though, he wants to check on their mental health.

“The way we're doing it is we want to make sure these guys are in a good place mentally and psychologically,” Foxhall said. “This is really unprecedented and was shocking. We want to make sure no one is in a bad place.”

When told the Bednars built a mound, Foxhall chuckled and said, “I'm not surprised by that at all.”

Foxhall said he is not at all concerned that Bednar will be ready to go when things return to normal.

It was one of the things that attracted Mississippi State to Bednar.

“The thing Will has that is very hard to teach is relaxed aggression,” Foxhall said. “That's really the most important thing a pitcher can have. He can throw with effort and emotion, but at the same time he's relaxed.”

Foxhall said that showed up very quickly during one of his first mound visits with Bednar, who had just walked a batter on four pitches.

Foxhall strolled to Bednar, told him to forget about that last hitter and reminded him that he was about to face the No. 9 batter in the lineup.

Bednar smiled.

“I'm paraphrasing here because you write for a family newspaper, but he said, 'This guy doesn't stand a chance,'” Foxhall said. “He has the ability to calm himself and that's what we're excited about. We think he's going to have a great career here.”

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