JamesMarsden_2__HamiltonIn Play(er) of the Week, we seek to highlight Wesleyan athletes or parts of games that deserve extra attention. James Marsden ’26 is a center fielder and pitcher for the Wesleyan men’s baseball team. Marsden recently won the NESCAC Player of the Week award for his performances during the Cardinals’ spring trip to Tucson, Ariz., and helped lead the Cards to seven straight wins for their first time since 2010, batting .500 with five home runs and a whopping 20 RBIs during the streak. As of now, Marsden holds the NESCAC lead in both RBIs and slugging percentage, and the Cardinals boast an 11–2 record, their best start since 1999, as they look towards their first NESCAC game with Amherst on Friday, March 29. The Argus recently sat down with Marsden to discuss his recent success and hopes for the team this season.

The Argus: Can you introduce yourself?

James Marsden: I’m a center fielder from Ivoryton, Conn., Valley Regional High School.

A: How did you first get into playing baseball?

JM: I got into baseball with tee ball. That’s when everyone starts playing. And then it was my dad and my thing. We would go to the field, five minutes from my house, and we would hit. He used to have me do a certain amount of swings every year, and then I’d get to go to a baseball game at the end of the year. I got into it, looking forward to that, and then I just ran with it. 

A: Which team would you go see at the end of the year?

JM: The Yankees. I’m a big Yankees guy.

A: Who was your favorite player as a kid who you wanted to play like? 

JM: Curtis Granderson. I used to like the way he would swing. He used to start all coiled back and I’d be like, I feel he’s gonna hit a bomb. I think I thought he was better than he ended up being, looking back. But for those early 2010s Yankees, Curtis Granderson was my guy.

A: Do you have any early baseball memories from tee ball, or maybe from Little League, that stand out as a moment where you really fell in love with the game?

JM: Well, my dad was my first coach. So that was always fun. That was one-on-one time we would get to have. And then that’s where I made most of my first friends. And from there, it just became a social thing. And then we grew together through the sport.

A: Getting into your high school years, when did you think about playing baseball in college and realize that that was definitely something that you could do?

JM: Baseball was always my number-one sport. I played three sports in high school. So I was a football, baseball, basketball, and I would regiment my school schedule around what sport I was playing at one time. So that was a consistency thing. And then when I got into Wesleyan, I was like, “I gotta see if I can play here and keep it going.”

A: How did you learn about Wes and realize that it was the right place to continue your baseball career and studies?

JM: I grew up like 25 minutes down the road. So I used to come to Wesleyan football games and all that with my friends, [my] dad, and my family. I have a memory of the first time I came to Wesleyan. It didn’t click in my mind that it was Wesleyan until I came here for school, but I remember walking up the hill and then onto the football field that was right in the middle of campus, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. So being able to come here was awesome.

A: You play center field, but you also pitch, so how do you balance your training between the two?

JM: I was only a pitcher for most of the start of my freshman year. So I got used to doing the two-way thing, and I got the experience of doing mostly pitching stuff. And then I moved more towards hitting and being able to do both sides. The extreme helped me find the balance. And my coaches have helped me figure out ways to prioritize what I need to do to get my arm ready to pitch if need be.

A: Now to pivot to the present, what was your mentality in the offseason, preparing to come back for your sophomore year?

JM: We had a young team last year, so it’s a lot of the same guys coming back. And we had a lot of experience being together last year. It’s a great group of guys. It just became [about asking], “What can we do to be the most ready to win the most games in the spring?” And I felt like my teammates did a really good job in the fall of holding each other accountable and keeping everyone focused.

A: What were your own personal goals, and goals for the team coming in? 

JM: My personal goals were the team goals. Because last year we finished first in the West, and we got bounced in the first round. That wasn’t very fun. I want to win the NESCAC or at least put us in the best spot to win the NESCAC. My personal goals going into that would be, what can I do to contribute the most and put us in the best spot.

A: Starting off this season, you guys had your best start since 2010, winning your first seven in a row. So what allowed you guys to really just come out of the gate so hot like that?

JM: I think we learned a lot from last year. I give huge credit to all the guys because I feel like we’ve been able to stay poised and not let situations get away from us and not take things for granted. And in doing so, a lot of guys have been playing very well.

A: Yeah, I noticed you guys have won some blowouts, but you’ve also had some closer wins where you’ve been able to execute in those situations you’re talking about.

JM: Yeah, that’s a big testament to our pitching staff. Our starters are really good at getting those deep into games. And then the closers are good at shutting it down, coming in in tough spots and staying level-headed and getting us out.

A: During the winning streak, you had your own streak of five straight games with a home run. What do you attribute this amazing level of production to?

JM: I look at it as a case of, everyone’s gonna get hot at some point. And there will be days where I’m not hitting. And it’s comforting to know that I have a lot of guys, one through nine in the lineup, who, on any given day, they’ll step up and hit great and they’ll have a really hot stretch. So it’s a good feeling to know that one through nine, we have great hitters who can step up. I think that’s been pretty beneficial to everyone.

A: How did it feel to be recognized for your performance with NESCAC Player of the Week?

JM: I think it’s a testament to how well we’ve been playing as a team. If we weren’t 7–0, and the whole team wasn’t playing well, it definitely wouldn’t have felt as good. And the guys around me were hitting so well too, that it puts pitchers in a bad spot. I think any of our guys at any given point could do that. And it’s tough for a pitcher to throw a pitch when they know that they’ve got someone after you who can hit the ball.

A: You guys are off to an amazing start. But what about this team makes you believe that you’ll be able to really do well in the second half of the season, and then make a deep run into the playoffs?

JM: The camaraderie. We have a really good group of guys, and a really focused group of guys. Like when someone’s putting in work, they’re putting in work with the team and as a team. And they’re working towards a common goal, which is winning as much as possible and going as deep as possible. And it’s a lot easier to work that way and play that way. When you know that everyone’s bought in.

A: Last question. This is your second year here at Wes. So is there anything you’ve learned about being a student athlete that you would tell your freshman self?

JM: I would tell my freshman self to be patient. And I would say, let things come to you and don’t force anything. And things will happen how they’re supposed to happen. Stay level-headed through highs and lows and keep doing the best that you possibly can.


This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Ethan Lee can be reached at ejlee@wesleyan.edu.

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