June 27, 2013 11:11:15 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Will Golsan can thank his grandparents and his parents for "the fever."
As any fan knows, there is a certain passion involved with following your favorite team or your alma mater. It will make some drive 13-14 hours to see a baseball game. It also will stir in even the youngest of players a dream to play for one school.
Ever since he was 7 years old, Golsan has lived with the thought he wanted to play baseball for the University of Mississippi. He nurtured that idea by watching the Rebels on television and following the example set by his grandparents and his mother, who also grew up an Ole Miss fan.
"I started having dreams of playing there," Golsan said.
A young boy's dreams were realized last week when the New Hope High School rising senior gave a verbal commitment to play for coach Mike Bianco's Rebels. Golsan visited Ole Miss on June 17 and received a scholarship offer. He discussed the opportunity with his parents and gave his verbal commitment the next day.
"When I got the offer it was a little overwhelming," Golsan said. "I thought it was best for me. I called (assistant) coach (Cliff) Godwin and told him I wanted to be an Ole Miss Rebel."
Golsan played an integral role in helping to lead New Hope to the Class 5A Mississippi High School Activities Association State title. The right-handed hitting and throwing shortstop hit a team-high .541 with 18 doubles, three home runs, and 21 RBIs. He also was 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 44 strikeouts. His efforts helped him earn Class 5A Player of the Year honors.
Not only did Golsan build on a breakout sophomore season in 2013, but he also had a strong showing earlier this month with the team that represented the state of Mississippi in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in McAlester, Oklahoma. Golsan hit .430 and led the team with 10 runs scored and seven stolen bases. The tournament featured teams from throughout the country and Canada that included some of the top high school juniors.
"It was a big week for him because he was a guy who snuck up on everybody statewide, but people in the area already knew how good he was," said Columbus High baseball coach Jeffrey Cook, a longtime assistant coach for Team Mississippi at the Junior Sunbelt Classic. "I told him when we invited the guys that there were a number of guys who already have committed (to colleges) as infielders and that it was a chance for him to prove how good you are."
Cook said Golsan showed in the field and at the plate he is just as good as the top infielders in the state of Mississippi and on the rest of the teams at the Junior Sunbelt Classic.
As a sophomore, Golsan said he never gave up after realizing he could be one of the best players in the state of Mississippi. He said the hard work hard paid off this past high school and in Oklahoma. He said the 10-game Junior Sunbelt Classic was a "huge test" that he felt helped him learn valuable lessons. He said he did well and that we wants to continue to improve in every aspect of his game.
"I want to get a better feel for hitting and making more contact and putting the ball in play," Golsan said. "The level of play was more than I expected. There was some great talent there like I had never seen before.
"It proved a lot. It helped that I went out there and played against the best of the best and showed I could compete against the best of the best."
New Hope High coach Lee Boyd wasn't surprised Golsan had such a strong showing with Team Mississippi. Boyd, who was named Class 5A Coach of the Year, said Golsan was a consistent performer in the lead-off spot in the batting order who took another big step forward this season.
"We knew Will was going to be a really good player when he was young," Boyd said. "He really surprised us last year when he hit .360 with a home run and he really played well defensively. He was making the routine plays as a ninth-grader, and last year we hoped he would do the same thing and he went from making the routine plays to the spectacular plays. He stayed hot all year."
Golsan has stayed busy since the trip to Oklahoma and his decision to play for Ole Miss. He played at a Golden Spikes tournament at the University of Southern Mississippi and then last week at the State Games in Meridian. He said he has one more tournament with a travel baseball team out of East Cobb, Ga. After that, Golsan will take some time off before gearing back up for his senior season and a chance to help the Trojans defend their state championship.
When he finally slows down, Golsan will get a chance to savor the opportunity to make his dream come true. Verbal commitments are non-binding and don't become official until a National Letter of Intent is signed, but Golsan said he is "very committed" to Ole Miss.
Why wouldn't he be? After all, it is a the realization of a dream.
"It is a big weight lifted off my shoulders," said Golsan, 17. "It was stressful finding somewhere to play and to get someone to look at me, but it is a relief to find somebody has offered me, especially when it is my dream school. I knew it was always a possibility (I could go there), but it wasn't like I am going to do that for sure. It is real hard to get into a Division I school for baseball. Like I said, the dream became reality."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.