There’s been a ‘Storm’ brewing of late on the diamond within the Southeastern Conference. That’s ‘Storm’, as in Somerset’s very own Storm Wilson.The ex-Briar Jumper and redshirt freshman at the University of Kentucky has been on a tear of late, helping the Wildcats keep their hopes alive for a post-season berth coming down the home stretch of the regular season.
Heading into last Saturday night’s clash at Cliff Hagan Stadium against the Auburn Tigers, Wilson came in with a .316 batting average, four home runs, and 18 RBI on the season.
And in last Saturday’s game, he certainly didn’t do anything to hurt those numbers.
Despite a tough 8-1 loss to the Tigers — UK’s only loss to Auburn in the three-game weekend series — Wilson raised his batting average for the season to .325 with a pair of doubles, while driving in Kentucky’s lone run of the contest.
Wilson has really came into his own over the second half of the season, helping the Cats stay on pace for a berth in next week’s Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament.
And, it all started for Wilson last summer, when he played for the Slippery Rock Sliders in the Prospect League.
Wilson played in 55 games for the Sliders in the summer of ‘13, batting .288 with 33 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, 17 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts.
Coming off of a 2013 redshirt season at Kentucky, Wilson said that playing summer ball last year helped him from a confidence standpoint, as well as helping him with the transition from the high school ranks to the collegiate game.
“In high school, it seems like everything kind of went pretty easy for me and the competition wasn’t too great,” said Wilson. “I had some good teammates beside me and it all worked out pretty well.”
“When I got here at UK, I redshirted my first year and I struggled that first year and it kind of threw me back a little bit,” Wilson said. “I wasn’t ready for the struggles that I came upon. I really worked hard last spring, and the coaches worked with me and helped me improve my swing. Then, I went to summer ball, and had a really good summer, and that really helped my confidence.”
Confidence is something that Wilson hasn’t lacked of late, as he has been a mainstay over the past few weeks in the UK lineup, starting for the Wildcats in right field.
UK head baseball coach Gary Henderson says that he’s been extremely pleased with Wilson’s progress this season, and is very happy to have him as an integral part of the Kentucky baseball program.
“Storm has done a great job here and he’s a very, very hard worker,” pointed out Henderson. “He listens well, and he does what you ask, and he’s a very good competitor. He’s got the skills to be successful here, and he’s just a fun kid to be around.”
As for Wilson’s early struggles last season to make that transition to the collegiate game, Henderson says that’s just part of the process that almost every incoming freshman has to go through at some point.
“In fairness to Storm, it’s pretty much tougher at this level than most all of them think it’s going to be,” pointed out coach Henderson. “It’s not just unique to Storm. Most all players coming in here from high school have a period of adjustment to get ready to play at this level.”
And of course there’s this little caveat for Wilson, in what has turned out to be a very special 2014 season for the ex-Briar Jumper.
Almost two weeks ago, Wilson — in the opening of a three-game series in Knoxville against rival Tennessee — hit an inside the park home run against the Vols, helping Kentucky go on to a 15-1 rout over the Vols.
Now, inside the park home runs don’t happen all that frequently in baseball, but they do happen on occasion.
However, what made Wilson’s so sweet, was the fact that he received almost a full minute of air time on ESPN later that evening on Sportscenter.
In fact, Wilson’s inside the park homer made ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day, coming in at number four that night.
Not bad for a kid that’s a redshirt freshman from Somerset, Kentucky.
“That was pretty cool,” said Wilson with a big grin across his face. “My whole family came down to Tennessee — my mom and my dad and my little brother — and they were in the hotel with me when we saw that on ESPN. They were all screaming and freaking out — it was crazy.”
“A lot of people back home in Somerset texted me and facebooked me that night about it, so it was pretty cool,” said Wilson. “I was able to watch it, and it was a really cool experience. One day, that will definitely be something that I will get to share with my grandchildren.”
The good thing for coach Henderson and Kentucky, along with all the avid fans inside the Big Blue Nation, Wilson will be sharing his talents at Kentucky for the next three years.
Yes, it appears there’s a ‘Storm’ brewing inside the SEC for future UK baseball opponents thanks to a kid from Somerset.