As a first-year soccer player, Greenup County senior goalkeeper Will McCall constantly threw his body around putting up huge save totals for a Cinderella team that shocked the region.
One of his biggest fans, Musketeers baseball coach Greg Logan, is hoping that McCall can follow up with a healthy season on the diamond.
McCall signed a letter of intent Friday afternoon at GCHS to continue his baseball career at Berea College.
Injuries ended McCall’s freshman and junior baseball seasons, but Greenup County is counting on him to stay in the lineup as an offensive catalyst and No. 2 pitcher.
“We’re going to lean on Will,” Logan said in assessing McCall’s value to the team. “Probably the reason for his injuries is the all-out effort he gave being so aggressive. He’s not afraid of anything. We would probably like to see him not take quite as many risks.”
Berea became interested in McCall during fall ball and invited him to a workout in November.
“They fell in love with his arm strength and foot speed,” Logan said. “It’s an easy sell when you have grades like that.”
McCall is a top-notch student who scored 27 on the ACT. He’s thinking about pursuing a career in physical therapy.
“Berea will fit for me,” McCall said. “My family doesn’t make that much money. This is something I can’t pass up. If I’m going to go to college, I might as well play baseball while I’m there.”
McCall will try to work into an outfield spot for Berea, an NAIA school and member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I think Will’s going to do well because he’s a really hard worker,” Logan said. “The bad injuries put him on the shelf during two of the last three seasons. Hopefully, he can avoid anything like that happening again and will continue to develop.”
As a freshman, McCall broke his collarbone in practice trying to make a diving catch.
“It was almost like I tackled the ground,” said McCall, who was on the roster to go to the State Tournament but had to miss the trip.
He showed his ability as a sophomore, batting .370 with two home runs and several stolen bases while batting in the leadoff spot and playing right field.
Last season, McCall hit .286 in 18 games before breaking his tailbone. He was chasing a pop fly in foul territory and slid into a fence post at Wheelersburg.
“I didn’t know how close I was to the fence,” said McCall, who was sidelined from physical activity for about 11 weeks.
Aware of the senior’s athletic ability, Greenup County soccer coach Andy Zabrieszack talked him into giving goalkeeping a try. Some of McCall’s baseball buddies had already committed to playing.
“They had already practiced two months,” McCall said. “Then In August, coach Z said they desperately needed a goalie. I had never even tried to kick a soccer ball before.”
McCall decided to play, then proceeded to rack up 270 saves for the Musketeers.
Said Logan: “I loved it. To see somebody in their first year of soccer diving around and making all those stops, it was a treat to watch. Will had more saves than Rollie Fingers.”
Greenup County caught fire at tournament time, surprising Russell in the region semifinals and then knocking off Boyd County in overtime for the championship.
“I’m really glad I played, especially going to state,” McCall said. “I was happy to be a part of something like that. It made me wish I had played all the way through.”
His passion is baseball, however, and McCall wants to help the Musketeers make a run at the region title this spring.
Senior teammate Seth Boyle recalled a “400-foot” blast that McCall hit at Spring Valley as a sophomore.
McCall smiled as he revisited the moment.
“Nobody was hitting that day,” he said. “Matt Jones’ dad told me, ‘Turn on one. Once you cross the plate, look at the crowd and point at me.’ I went up there with no intention of trying to hit a home run. I don’t know if the ball travelled 400 feet, but it cleared two fences and landed in the softball field.
“After I rounded the bases, I looked up but couldn’t find Matt’s dad. Later, he told me he was at the concession stand.”
Logan said McCall brings much to the table as a baseball player and person.
“Will’s a competitor,” Logan said. “He runs the bases well and has a great knowledge of the game. I expect him to swipe a bunch of bases. In the outfield, there’s nothing he can’t reach.
“He’s also very respectful. It’s a pleasure to coach players like him, really a joy.”
McCall becomes the third college signee off Greenup County’s squad. Boyle and Zach Hutchinson are headed to Campbellsville University.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.