E.A. Sports Today

Wilkins finds his place

[corner-ad id=2]UPDATED: Oxford right-hander gets his chance to play college baseball, signs with Miles

Oxford right-hander Mason Wilkins (R) warms up in the bullpen alongside Alexandria's Taylor Shaddix prior to the Yellow Jackets' Senior Day game in April.

Oxford right-hander Mason Wilkins (R) warms up in the bullpen alongside Alexandria’s Taylor Shaddix prior to the Yellow Jackets’ Senior Day game in April.

“It’s kind of unbelievable, really, to look back a month ago at how discouraged I was to now. It’s like a totally different person, a totally different Mason.”

— Oxford right-hander Mason Wilkins

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – About a month or so ago Mason Wilkins wasn’t sure where his future as a college baseball player was going.

The Oxford right-hander was making his pitch to college coaches around the state without much satisfaction and it was looking more likely he’d be walking on somewhere for his best opportunity.

Then, suddenly, Miles College assistant coach Ty Roberts – a former Oxford player – picked up his scent. Wednesday morning Wilkins completed the process by signing with the Golden Bears in the high school media center.

“It really wasn’t looking too good early; I thought I was going to have to walk on somewhere,” Wilkins said. “I went to about 10 JUCOs around Alabama. I just kept on getting negative feedback. It was kind of discouraging. Then Coach Roberts comes and tells me he’s really interested and willing to work with me and do what it takes to get me to Miles. That really picked me up.”

Wilkins, one of the Yellow Jackets’ two senior pitchers, had numbers this season that showed he could help somebody. He was 4-1 with a 4.19 ERA in 30 innings, but opponents hit only .178 off him. He threw a one-hitter against Piedmont and got the win against then-No. 6 Hoover.

During the course of the signing ceremony, Oxford coach Wes Brooks spoke of Wilkins’ first varsity appearance on the mound. It was a game against Piedmont last season in which he entered with bases loaded, one out and the Bulldogs’ best hitter coming to bat.

Wilkins threw six straight curveballs to strike out the hitter and got the next batter to pop out.

“That was probably one of the better pitching jobs I’ve done for Oxford,” he said.

It’s a role he should get used to at Miles. Bears assistant coach Ty Roberts, a former Oxford player, said the plan was to use Wilkins as a reliever, put him in some tight situations and work him up from there.

“That’s really what I’d rather do anyway,” Wilkins said. “I’d get more playing time than if I started one game every week.”

Roberts got involved with him during the Lions Club’s East-West statewide all-star series and pointed him towards a summer team in Spain Park that includes other Miles signees. All the pitcher needed apparently was a little encouragement.

Wilkins joined the travel team two weeks into its season and so far is 2-0 with three saves. Last Tuesday they brought him into a one-run game with a runner on third and one out, and he got out of the jam unscathed.

“I’m real confident now, even Coach Roberts said that,” Wilkins said. “He said in the East-West games he could tell my confidence was down; teams would hit a ball and I’d put my head down.

“He could tell I’ve got the look in my eye now that I’m ready for whatever. It’s kind of unbelievable, really, to look back a month ago at how discouraged I was to now. It’s like a totally different person, a totally different Mason.

“I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that starting rotation up at Miles. He told me I’d have a chance to pitch this year, maybe not start, but relieve, close. I’m going to do what it takes.”

Oxford right-hander Mason Wilkins makes it official, signing his letters to play baseball at Miles College Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Oxford HS).

Oxford right-hander Mason Wilkins makes it official, signing his letters to play baseball at Miles College Wednesday. (Photo courtesy Oxford HS).



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