Josh Wilson Story
Story by Tom Didato
A trip to Columbia ended with Josh Wilson headed for Florence. Wilson, Camden High School's senior catcher this past baseball season, was the beneficiary of a chance meeting between Bulldog head coach Denny Beckley and Curtis Hudson, the head coach at Florence-Darlington Technical College (FDTC), at a Citadel vs. South Carolina baseball game in Columbia which the CHS team attended earlier this summer.
In the course of his conversation with Hudson, the former head coach at Wilson High School, Josh Wilson's name was brought up. Shortly thereafter, Hudson was hot on the trail of the three-year starting catcher.
The recruiting ended last Thursday when the All-Region 4-AAA selection signed a national letter-of-intent with the Stingers, who recently completed their first season in school history with a 25-win campaign.
Beckley said it was not a tough in selling Hudson on his three-year starting backstop. Hudson was already familiar with Wilson from his days as a coach at Wilson, then a member of Camden¹s region. At the same time, though, Beckley said it was an odd set of occurrences which led to Hudson's interest in the Bulldogs' team leader.
It¹s funny how stuff like this happens, Beckley said of his meeting with Hudson at Sarge Frye Field. We talked that night and were able to have Josh meet (Hudson) face-to-face. I think that was one of the best things that happened for Josh. Another player in the process was Lakewood baseball coach Barry Hatfield, who talked with Hudson about Wilson earlier in the spring. From there, FDTC assistant coach Sean Heffernan put the wheels in motion by contacting Wilson, who made a visit to the Florence campus in which he met his future teammates and coaches.
One look was all it took for Wilson to be sold on the school and program.
Coach Heff (Heffernan) called me and asked me to come over there for a visit and tryout deal, Wilson said. I really liked the vibe of the team.
It was like we'd been practicing together all year. We really jelled.
I also liked coach Hudson and coach Heff. They are real good guys and real good coaches.² There was a lot for the Stingers staff to like about Wilson as well.
Over the course of his final two seasons at Camden High, Wilson batted at a combined .283 clip. This past season, he drove in a team-high 20 runs while smacking six doubles, a triple and one home run. Defensively, he only committed eight errors in 50 games in his junior and senior years combined. The statistics, however, only tell part of the story of what Wilson meant to the Bulldogs, according to his high school coach. Beckley said one thing which cannot be measured by coaches is a players desire and love for the game. Those things, he said, are what makes Wilson the type of player that he is.
A lot of the people at the next level are always going to be concerned about the size of the player their speed, Beckley said. Josh is not the biggest of people, but he makes up for that with his heart and his work ethic. As the CHS catcher, Wilson was an extension of Beckley and his staff on the field. In addition, he was also the team's vocal and emotional leader off it.
He has also been around the game for years, starting with his playing in Kershaw County Recreation Department leagues. Wilson said he is still trying to absorb as much as he can about the game and said he expects to learn a lot from his new coaches.
Coach Hudson is a great guy. He really knows a lot about the game of baseball, he said. Just seeing him coach and listening to him talk about the game of baseball is amazing. Some of the stuff which comes out of his mouth as far as teaching people the fundamentals and other aspects of the game are unbelievable. Wilson will be one of four catchers on the Stingers¹ 2005-06 roster. Just where he stacks up in that group will probably be determined after fall baseball, in which FDTC will play 20 games along with a series of intra-squad games. In the spring, the Stingers will play a 50-game regular season slate.
Wilson said he wants to make a favorable impression in the fall to get playing time in the spring.
Coach Hudson said the fall season is where we'll earn our spots to play, he said. He said the returning players aren¹t guaranteed anything and that if I go out there and just play my game, I should be fine. Beckley said he expects Wilson to catch the collective eye of the FDTC coaching staff.
As long as Josh gets an opportunity, a fair shake ..., Beckley said, That's one thing about coach Hudson, is that he¹s a very fair guy. Josh is going to make his own opportunities at the next level.
Josh has great leadership abilities. He's a great leader. He¹s not afraid to tell somebody if they're doing something wrong, even if they are a good friend of his. He¹s not going to worry about the repercussions of somebody getting mad at him. Those are good qualities and one which a lot of kids don¹t have these days. As far as the changes he will have to make to his game, Wilson said he will have to get stronger, work on his foot speed and get better with the bat. He said after trying out with the players at FDTC, he noticed a distinct difference between the high school and college game.
The speed in the college game is definitely different. I could tell that by the way their pitchers were throwing, he said. In high school, you might see pitchers throwing 80 miles an hour. When I went there, I was seeing 85 to 87 miles an hour. That¹s probably going to be the biggest change.
In college, guys are going to swing bigger sticks, too. They are going to hit the ball farther than they do in high school. Pitch-calling in college is going to be different. Everything is going to be upscale. Beckley said that he has complete confidence that Wilson will make his mark at the two-year school and then, go on to a play at a college and/or university. For the time being, however, he is just happy that Wilson is getting the chance to play at the next level.
Our job as high school coaches is to try and get our kids to the best place where they have the chance to succeed, he said. We care about getting them to a place where somebody is going to want them and will give them an opportunity. Josh is going to get that opportunity and he is going to make the best of it. That is what he is always going to do.