Nick Ward Returning to Washington for 2022
WASHINGTON, Pa. (Dec. 3) - The Washington Wild Things have announced the first player to officially re-sign for the 2022 season with the extension of infielder Nick Ward for his second season as a Wild Thing after a strong 2021.
Offensively, the Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, native sported a slash line of .269/.420/.409 with 18 doubles, five home runs and 37 RBI last season. He drew 67 walks, which was the third most in all of the Frontier League and the .420 on-base percentage was fourth in the league. Ward also swiped 21 bags and only struck out about once every 10 plate appearances (37 K in 369 PA).
Once moved to the leadoff spot in the lineup, Ward helped to set the table for a team that flourished after that move. Washington was 38-16 in the regular season with Ward in the leadoff spot in 2021.
"I guess it’s fitting that Nick is the first one announced to come back: after all he is our leadoff hitter…", said manager Tom Vaeth. "[We're] very happy to have Nick back in the fold. His ability to be a high on-base percentage guy is key to what we want to do and be as an offense. Also, he is one of the best defensive shortstops in our league and I’m sure our pitchers are thrilled he will again anchor our middle defense."
Ward and the Wild Things got off to a shaky start to the season, but he said the players knew what they were capable of and "caught lightning in a bottle and got hot at the right time." As a team, Washington rallied to an FLDS victory from down 1-0 and 2-1 that included a walk-off double in Game 2 by Ward at Wild Things Park.
The former West Chester standout and A's farmhand said his season was filled with ups and downs, but the team success helped take his mind off the slump toward the end of the year. Now he wants more.
"I think the goal for our team this year is pretty cut and dry: be one game better than last year," said Ward. "We lost the last game of the championship series. Our goal is simply to win that last game of the year. Personally, I just want to be the best 1/9th of the equation. If I can do my part every day to help the team win then I’ve accomplished that goal."
On top of the on-field success for Ward, he was named the 2021 Frontier League Fran Riordan Award winner, the league's Citizenship Award. That, along with great play, make Ward a strong representative of the Wild Things heading into their 20th Frontier League campaign.
"Nick has been such an amazing ambassador for the Wild Things organization on and off the field. We received so many glowing reviews of his interactions with fans at multiple stadiums across the league throughout the summer," said vice president and general manager Tony Buccilli. "On the field he takes great pride in his work, plays the game the right way and is a great teammate. We are very excited to have him back as part of our returning core for 2022."
For Ward, the decision was easy to return.
"The biggest reason I decided to resign was the people that are in Washington: everyone from ownership and front office to the coaching staff and the other players that are returning," said Ward. "The fans are incredible and very supportive. They played a part in my decision for sure. When it comes down to it the people you’re around are going to make or break the experience. The people surrounding the team are incredible and I wanted to be a part of that group again."
Washington and Ward will kick off their 20th Frontier League season May 13 at home against the New York Boulders. The full schedule is available at washingtonwildthings.com. Check out the roster as it gets announced by clicking here.