It's been a banner year for the Bloomingdale High School Baseball Team. And at least part of the credit for the team's success goes to centerfielder/pitcher Austin Wilson, said head coach Kris Wilken.
"The other day, he made one of the best plays I've seen a high school kid make," said Wilken, referring to a dive Wilson made from centerfield to catch a ball hit by a Gaither High School player. "The best part of his game is defense."
However, what sets Wilson apart isn't his skill as a ball player, said Wilken. It's his work ethic.
"He's always willing to work hard to achieve," said Wilken.
That strong work ethic combined with some impressive stats was enough to win Wilson a scholarship with a Division 1 school, Eastern Michigan University.
Surrounded by friends, fellow Bulls players, former coaches and a large extended family, Wilson signed a letter of intent with Eastern Michigan University April 16.
In addition to his skill on the field, the senior is credited with making 70-plus base hits over his four years at Bloomingdale.
His current batting average is .282 and his fielding percentage is 1.000.
"I'm thankful he's gotten the opportunity to chase his dream," said his dad and one-time Little League coach, Brian Wilson.
Wilson began playing ball with South Brandon Little League at the age of 5 and went on to play travel ball before joining the Bulls.
Watching his oldest grandson sign the letter of intent was a landmark moment for Skip Wilson who said he rarely missed a game.
"He's been a great kid all of his life," said Skip Wilson. "He worked hard. He's not as gifted as some but always made up for it with his work ethic. I'm very proud of him. And he assures me that Eastern Michigan has a cam on the field so I can continue to watch him."
At Eastern Michigan University, Wilson will rotate between centerfield and the pitching mound.
"It's kind of fun to know I had a part in his success," said Brian Wilson, who coached his son from age 5 to 14 when he began to play travel ball. "This is the college he wanted to attend. He had other offers but he wanted to attend a Division 1 school. Eastern Michigan has the facilities and the staff to help him get to the next level. He has a tremendous drive to play ball. He'll just have to get used to the cold weather in Michigan."
Sitting next to Austin Wilson as he signed were his two younger brothers, Trey and Cody. Cody is now playing ball and hopes to follow in his big brother's footsteps. Trey is a golfer.
"This could be a big motivator for them, seeing their brother's success," said Brian Wilson. "Getting here took a lot of sacrifice and hard work and money. We followed him as he played in towns all over the country. But he showed the determination and skills, so we followed the dream."
For his part, Austin Wilson said he was overwhelmed by the support of his teammates and coaches at the signing.
And he offered special thanks to his parents, Brian and Shelly, and other family members, saying he wouldn't have succeeded without their steadfast support.