Will Wilson Feels At Home With USA Baseball
CARY, N.C.—There’s really no place like home for Will Wilson.
Wilson, a rising junior at N.C. State, enjoyed a successful day at the plate and helped USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team defeat the Coastal Plain League Select Team, 3-2, Wednesday night at USA Baseball's National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
With N.C. State right down the road from both Cary and Wilson's hometown of Kings Mountain, N.C., the 6-foot, 175-pound infielder has had quite a fanbase behind him this season and while with the national team.
“I live about three hours away from Raleigh,” Wilson said. “So they [family] get to come up on the weekends, but friends, people that still live around (Cary), like the N.C. State fans, come out and I get to talk to them after games. It’s a lot of fun.”
Wilson played at second base for the collegiate national team Wednesday night and contributed an RBI and two hits, but his best play did not go in the official scorebook.
With the two teams agreeing to play eight innings of regulation baseball and two innings of exhibition baseball while using the international tie-breaking rule, USA Baseball officially won the game on a walk-off single from UNLV rising junior Bryson Stott in the eighth.
But one batter later, Wilson came up and blasted a home run to left field, a hit that did not count in the scorebook but one that certainly helped his confidence.
“Swinging the bat felt better today then it did the other day,” Wilson said. “And the whole team chemistry is starting to get together and everyone is swinging the bats, so it’s feeling a lot better than it did yesterday.”
Wilson is joined on the team by Wolfpack teammate Patrick Bailey, a first-year catcher, and the two are rooming together while with the national team.
Wilson recently completed a stellar season at N.C. State, where he hit .307/.376/.588 to go along with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs. For his play, Wilson was rewarded with a first-team All-ACC selection.
After a freshman season in which he posted a respectable .300/.377/.504 slash line with eight home runs and 48 RBIs in 2017, Wilson credits both offseason adjustments and N.C. State associate head coach Chris Hart for his improved production at the plate as a sophomore.
“I think it was a big thing for us, Coach Hart at N.C. State really emphasized getting our pitch and hitting our pitch,” Wilson said. "And I think that was the biggest adjustment—trying to get walks and get on base and stuff like that.”
Wilson’s play, which included an RBI single that cut the CPL lead to one in the seventh inning, has impressed the USA Baseball coaching staff, specifically manager Paul Mainieri, who also coaches at Louisiana State.
“He was tremendous,” Mainieri said. “He’s made quite an impression on our coaching staff in these first couple of days. He’s a scrappy ball player, got a lot of talent. We gotta make the decision on who the final roster is going to be and he’s making a good showing for himself.”
With 34 players on the collegiate team and only 24 and 26 roster spots available for exhibition series against the Japanese Collegiate All-Stars and Cuba, respectively, some current players will not see their names on the final rosters. As of now, 18 players have guaranteed spots on those teams, but Wilson is not one of them.
But because of his stellar play and the way he has impressed coaches, he could be picked to fill one of those final roster spots.
All while playing in his home state, just minutes away from N.C. State.