Ahead of Penn baseball’s opening series at South Carolina this weekend, The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with third baseman Wyatt Henseler to ask about his goals for the upcoming season, his favorite memories of the Red and Blue, and his personal life off the field. From his dream lineup to his struggle with picking walk-up songs, here’s what the junior had to say.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a junior from Emmaus, Pa., which is in the Lehigh Valley right by Lehigh University. I grew up playing baseball; it’s pretty much all I played since I was a kid. I loved it, my dad loved it, my grandfather loved it — big Yankees fans. I love playing [at Penn], I love all the guys on the team. Obviously great academics, so it was a pretty easy choice coming here.
2. What is your earliest memory of playing baseball?
I don’t even know what my first memory would be, but there’s a funny one where I was scared of getting hit by the ball. So, my dad would take a ball and wouldn’t let me use a glove and I would have to go bare handed. He would put me up against the wall and just threw them at me, and I’d just have to get hit. Now I don’t move out of the way. All my teammates joke about it, my coaches too, that I don’t move out of the way. I led the league again in hit by pitches last year because I get hit all the time; I don’t move. So, I can thank my dad for that.
3. Who would make it on your dream all-star lineup?
Definitely Mike Trout. Big fan of him. He’s a New Jersey guy; I'm originally from Jersey. I played for the same tournament team as him. Derek Jeter is my favorite player. Growing up, I was a big fan of just who he was as a player and as a person. Aaron Judge is my favorite player now. I'm just naming a lot of obviously great players, but I like them a lot.
4. Penn baseball had a great season last year, especially in Ivy play. What’s one lesson you learned from last season?
I think the little things added up at the end. I think last year, we were probably the most talented team this school has ever had. But we didn't play very well together when it mattered. Looking back, we had a lot of really talented players and we kind of just played the hot hand every weekend. Especially offensively, maybe one weekend it was Ben [Miller]. Maybe one weekend it was Craig [Larsen], and you just kind of fed off one of them. Versus this year, I think we are a much more well-rounded team — there’s a lot more team chemistry. So, hopefully we can build on some of that.
5. You’ve received a number of accolades throughout your time at Penn, including a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection last year and Ivy League preseason player of the year for this upcoming season. How does that change your outlook going into this season?
Honestly, not much. I'm much more of a team-focused guy. I know that sounds kind of cliche to say, but I feel like you just compete and try to work for your team. I think a lot of individual stuff comes down the line, especially the preseason stuff. I think last year I had the same thing happen, and I think it's easy to get caught up in preseason awards and even just awards you've gotten but at the same time, it doesn't translate into the next season. I'm always one that looks ahead and asks how can I get better for the next one? I think that’s just what baseball is in general — as you learn, you learn how to respond to failure quickly.
I feel like hitters especially, we fail. We get out seven out of 10 times, but we're still really good players. So I think it's all about focusing on how I can help the team win and, you know, if individual stuff comes with that, it's awesome; but at the same time, we didn't win when it mattered last year in that last game. So that's kind of what's been on my mind going into the season.
6. With the start of the season so close, what goals do you have?
Just as a team, I think we've been seeing a lot of progress week to week. So, I think we can just keep playing like that. I think we've been having good team offense — pitchers are throwing more strikes — so I think just playing some more sound baseball going into the South Carolina trip is the biggest goal.
7. Have you decided your walk-up songs for this season?
I actually haven’t. I was just texting my little brother about it, asking if he had any suggestions for me. Since freshman year, I’ve always done “Uproar” by Lil Wayne as my first one. The team likes it, so I keep it. Then I need two more and I can’t decide on them — it's giving me trouble. So if anyone out here can maybe give me some suggestions, that'd be much appreciated.
8. Do you have any pregame rituals?
I'm not a big superstition guy. Unfortunately, my sport is very superstitious. Our captain last year, Kevin [Eaise], said it well the other day, actually. He plays at North Carolina now and they hosted a 'get to know you.' He said some people get really caught up in routines and things, and think that they have to hit before a game, but if you don't really have a set plan it's hard to mess it up and mess you up. So I think I try to keep it pretty loose. I mean, I put on the tape, I put on the arm sleeve and all that, but at the same time, I don't think I have like a ‘I'm going to tap my toe once this time’ or ‘I'm going to wear this specific pair of socks.’ The more normal I can make it — the simpler I can make it — the better.
9. What’s been your most memorable moment wearing the Red and Blue so far?
Texas A&M last year was really cool. They ended up finishing fourth in the country, and that was where we opened up last year. We were able to win the series — just all around an awesome team win, and I think it really projected us throughout the rest of the year and just really got us started on a good note.
10. What’s your favorite activity outside of baseball?
I do work-study for the school, so I work for the Athletics Department — just, like, working events, so I’ll mop for the basketball games, and last weekend, I set up for gymnastics stuff. I'm super busy, so I'm not super involved in clubs or anything, but in a way that is my extracurricular activity. I've always grown up with a job, and it was hard finding ways to make some money or keep myself busy. So that's been really good — a bunch of my teammates and I just working other sports events, watching your friends play. Plus, we get paid to do it.
11. If you weren’t playing baseball, what sport would you try?
I think basketball is super athletic, it's really hard to be good at it. My brothers always grew up playing. I think that or football — I think being a quarterback would be really cool. In high school, the coaches always wanted me to try out and see what would happen just to see. I never did — I was always too worried about getting hurt for baseball — but sometimes I wish I gave it a try.
12. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I really like Shoemaker Green. I think that’s a nice spot, just going through there on the way to practice. It's almost like, as soon as you get across 33rd Street or 32nd Street, it's kind of like the stress of school is out of the way when I see the nice little patch of green. I like right outside of Houston Hall too, I like that courtyard right there. It sucks that it's always under construction, so you can't see it, but I think that might be the nicest spot on the academic side of campus.
13. Do you have any hot takes?
Halal is big here, but I’m just not about it at all. I bought it once and I will never buy it again. People swear by the Halal guys or the trucks. I love the food trucks, but Halal is just not it — I can’t get behind it.
14. Who should we look out for on Penn baseball this year?
Miller's going to have a really big year. We were talking about it the other day, and he obviously had a really good year last year — first-team All-Ivy — but he’s gotten a lot stronger, really looking good in practice. So I think he's going to have a really big year. I think one of our freshmen, Ryan Taylor, is going to have a really big year as well. I think he’ll be a big candidate for that. I think our team all around looks really good. I think those are just the two names that popped in my head right now that I've been impressed with the past couple weeks.
15. What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone hoping to play Division I baseball someday?
I think, growing up when I was younger, one thing that helped me was that I played up in age. So, for younger kids aspiring to play, once high school comes around, just climbing up the competition as much as you can. It's less about training and more about playing experience and learning how to compete and win more. I think the more competitive you are, the more successful you can be, so being in a competitive atmosphere is really important. I think a lot of kids grow up dreaming of playing Division I sports, and I think one thing that really helped me was my parents. I think leaning on them, trusting them, and being on the same page with them was really important to me as well. I think having the right support staff and being willing to put in the work outside of it gives you a good chance.