Former Thunder Mountain High School pitcher Philip Wall made the most of his first year of collegiate baseball.
Wall, who was homeschooled, made the all-Upper Midwest Athletic Conference team thanks to his efforts on the mound for the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Wall started nine games, went 5-2, compiled a 3.24 ERA and threw just over 66 innings for the Eagles.
Here, he talks about his season highlights and playing for Juneau Post 25.
Juneau Empire: What were the season highlights?
Philip Wall: Defeating then-ranked No. 24 Bethel University, where I threw a complete game, gave up zero earned runs, and walked none was my favorite pitching highlight of the season. Offensively, my biggest highlight was when I came into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth against University of Wisconsin Superior in the conference tournament. We had both lost one game in the tournament, so whoever lost this game was going home. We were down 4-9 when I came in with two outs and a man on third. I hit a line drive into right field on the first pitch I saw, making the score 5-9. When I came up in the bottom of the ninth the score was 8-9 with bases loaded and one out. After two pitches I hit another line drive to the same exact spot and we won the game 10-9, in walk-off fashion.
Empire: What’s been the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make going from high school to college ball?
Wall: To be a student-athlete in college, you have to be disciplined and committed to the program and your academics. In the fall, we were practicing five times a week plus three-morning lifts, and once you add schooling and work into that mix you get burnt out pretty quickly. Having a good work ethic and being coachable play a huge role in college sports, but the best thing that you can do for yourself is to have self-respect and a respect of those around you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of following others and getting into dangerous habits just to fit in but if you can respect yourself and others enough to say no, it will pay off in the long run.
Empire: Based on your year in college, coming into this year must feel a lot different than last year because you just played high school. How much different do you feel as a baseball player this year?
Wall: It does feel a lot different. It feels like I’m more comfortable, I’d say, and have a bigger perspective on the game. Here, you see such a small community, there’s only 16 teams for Legion and they’re pretty small. You go down and you play college and each team is 50 guys on each roster and it’s a much bigger deal down there, much bigger program, guys take it more seriously so it’s definitely got a different feel this season.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.