Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
Cade Feeney’s athletic heritage stretches far and wide. His father, Steve, played football for the University of North Dakota. His cousin Trey just committed to play football for the Fighting Hawks as well. Kevin, Cade’s uncle (and Trey’s father), is still regarded as one of NDSU’s best quarterbacks. That is not even mentioning his brother Dalton, who currently pitches for North Carolina State and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers.
Needless to say, Cade Feeney has the heritage behind him. However, what makes the youngest Feeney sibling so special is that he is forging his own path. While he holds his family’s successes in high regard, it is his own personal success that is top of mind. Given his body of work in his prep career. Feeney looks to become another dominating force on the mound for North Dakota State.
Potentially one of the most highly-touted recruits in program history, Feeney dazzled for Bismarck Century High School. In his final prep season, he finished with a remarkable .80 ERA for the Patriots. His dominance on the bump led to him garnering Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2019.
It should come as no surprise that Tod Brown was interested in Feeney. Now a big piece to NDSU’s puzzle in 2021, Feeney has already caught the eye of several Summit League teams. The freshman was named the preseason Freshman Of The Year before he even stepped foot on the mound for the Bison. That distinction alone should illustrate just how good Cade Feeney is.
We discussed a transition to college life and more with Feeney.
Growing up in a family where your dad went to school at UND, how did you decide to make NDSU your choice for school?
Yeah, it was tough. I know talking with my dad, he always wanted me and my brother to play football. When my brother Dalton committed to play baseball, it just took a turn on me where I thought baseball was my path too. I was a little better in baseball than I was in football, but he’s been the most supportive of me throughout all my years. I think he was happy with whatever decision I made. I think he’s just happy that I’m playing college baseball.
What jumped out to you about the program here at NDSU? What led to you wanting to come here?
On my visit, I think the coaches did a tremendous job of showing me around and introducing me to the guys. I felt the good chemistry right away with the recruits coming in. I think just talking on the phone with the coaches continuously was the biggest thing for me. They’ve always been supportive. No matter what, whatever I was going through, be it an injury or whatever, they’ve always been there.
I think that was the biggest thing. They’re one of the most supportive coaching groups that I’ve talked to. I think they just do a great job of talking with you and showing you everything. Simple things like walking around campus or baseball aspects too. I’ve learned so many new things from them in just half a year so far.
How have you guys navigated these pandemic waters that are changing each day?
I think the answer is in the question. We don’t know if we’re going to have a next weekend or anything like that. With COVID testing, you never know if you’re going to be contacted for tracing. That’s just more reason to go out and perform your hardest because you never know if you’re going to get that next weekend.
What do you think you bring to this program? What are some of your strong points that you think can help this program?
I think I just bring confidence on the mound, I think that’s my biggest role. If coach has put me out there, I’m out there for a reason. I think that they’ve put a lot of trust in me and I have that trust in them. On the mound, having a presence and getting the job done to get our team into a position to win is the biggest thing.
From a chemistry standpoint, how have you gone about finding your role on a team that has a lot of returners?
The older guys did a great job of helping me and trying to show me the ropes of it. I think that they’ve done a great job teaching me. I know that I’ve looked up to a lot of these older guys in the fall and in this winter to try to prepare me for this spring and they’ve done a great job. They’ve been talking with me on what other teams like to do and their strengths or weaknesses. The older guys have just done a tremendous job bringing me in and teaching me.
Your family has a history of athletic excellence, how do you go about blocking out expectations and pressure in that regard? How do you focus on what you can control?
I wouldn’t say there’s that much pressure. If I’m playing a game that I love, that’s the biggest thing for me. Yeah, there’s a lot of history and some people are looking at me for something, but to me, it’s just coming out here every day trying to do my best and trying to help the team win. I think if I do those things, my career can speak for itself.
What are some things that you want to see yourself grow in over the course of the next couple of months here as the season progresses a little bit?
Class in the spring with our travel is challenging, I have definitely noticed that. It’s tough to keep up with grades and all that. On the field, I’d say probably hitting for sure is my biggest area of improvement. I’m just working with [David] Pearson and he’s done a tremendous job teaching me so many new things that that I just never knew. On the mound, I think [Tyler] Oakes has done a great job of teaching me everything. Coming from high school, it’s just about getting on the mound and it isn’t much else. This spring has been a whole different ballgame and I like it.
How do you kind of go about handling the ups and downs the game can bring from a mental point of view?
We do a lot of visualization that Oakes does with us so we can kind of prepare ourselves before we actually get into those tough situations. When runners get on or someone just smacks a leadoff double or whatever, it’s just about battling through it. I think Oakes does a great job preparing us for that. It all comes down to just wanting it more than the batter and you just got to go out and keep attacking and not veer off or get scared. We just have to keep attacking.