By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
WEST POINT —
As the majority of his classmates were still at home enjoying a two-hour delay to the school day on Tuesday morning, Wesley Waters arrived at West Point High and made his way to the library to pen the most important signature of his life.
His future wasn’t about to wait on anything or anyone — not even Mother Nature.
With his parents, Terry and Tammy, as well as a future assistant coach, Adam Scott, watching over his shoulder, Waters inked a scholarship offer to join Wallace State’s pro-prospect-producing baseball program.
“It’s something I’ve always been working for my whole life, since I was like 10 years old,” the senior sensation said. “I’d go watch Wallace baseball games all the time when I was younger.”
Waters has developed into his team’s ace throughout his prep career with the Warriors, using remarkable command on both sides of the plate with his heat while mixing in a good deal of off-speed pitches to keep batters guessing. He’s also served as a solid third baseman and wielded a big bat packed with home-run power at the plate.
Coach Trai Meadows hasn’t been atop West Point’s baseball program for all that long, but he’s witnessed Waters’ extraordinary work ethic from Day 1.
Before he even had a chance to meet any players, Meadows drove to the school on a Sunday with plans to work on the field. Waters was already there, which the coach quickly learned would not be a one-time deal. Meadows said the senior spends most Sundays either with a few teammates or his father, hitting, taking groundballs, throwing or doing whatever it takes to improve his craft.
“I’m super excited for Wesley,” a beaming Meadows said of Waters’ big day. “He’s one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever been around. He works every day to get better.”
With a daunting schedule this past season that included some of Tennessee’s top teams and area-rivals Cullman and Hartselle, Waters was always the one Meadows called on to get the job done on the mound. Not surprising to the coach, the fireballer generally delivered.
“Last year, we threw him in some tough situations,” Meadows said. “But he held his ground. He throws hard, and he can pitch. He’s good.”
Not only has the coach watched Waters find ways to contribute as a pitcher, third baseman and as a slugger, but Meadows has also been blown away by the senior’s ability to lead by example.
“He’s a great kid,” Meadows said. “It’s always yes sir and no sir with him. All the younger kids look up to him. They see what he’s doing and they follow his lead.”
The coach is hoping that trend will continue with Waters’ signing.
“This gives the younger guys something they can look forward to,” Meadows said. “They can see him and see the work he puts into it. At some point, maybe they can get to that point. This is big for the program.”
While the program has certainly been thankful to have Waters as a Warrior, the versatile student-athlete wanted to return the sentiment.
“West Point has been a great help,” Waters said. “All these coaches, Coach Meadows, Coach (Zeke) Eubanks and Coach (Steve) Woodard, they’ve helped me out a lot.”
Waters’ long-term goal is to play baseball at the major-league level, and these days, there’s no better place to attend than Wallace State to help reach that dream.
Craig Kimbrel, Derek Holland, Graham Godfrey and Jake Elmore have all reached the big leagues in recent years, and Bret Marks could eventually join them after being selected by the New York Yankees in the 2012 First Year Player Draft.
“I can see him going on,” Meadows said of Waters. “Everybody at Wallace seems like they keep going on.”
From his current coach to a future one, Scott is happy knowing Waters will suit up for the Lions come spring of 2014.
The Wallace State assistant coach recalled seeing Waters for the first time during the college’s fall league. Scott instantly knew Waters was the real deal.
“I remember sitting in the stands, and Coach (Randy) Putman was in the office,” he said. “Seeing Wesley hit and then he got on the mound and was throwing great, I ran to the office and said, ‘You got to get out here and see this kid. He’s just right down the road, so we can’t pass up on him.’”
Waters expects to be utilized mostly on the mound, but Scott said he’ll also receive his fair share of playing time at third base.
“I think Wesley can help us being a position player and a pitcher,” Scott said. “We’re really excited to have a two-way guy like Wesley.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.