Baconton Charter baseball star William Sullivan, second from right, smiles after signing Friday with Thomas University as he was joined by, from left, Baconton Charter A.D. and assistant baseball coach John Pinson, Post 182 coach Hayes Cook and Thomas assistant Boo Taylor. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
BACONTON — Baconton Charter grad William Sullivan remembers stepping on the mound a couple of times in middle school when his team ran out of pitchers.
“I was basically out there just because they had nobody else to throw, and they were pretty rough,” Sullivan said with a laugh.
Little did he know that his high school career would be defined by what he was able to accomplish on the mound.
Sullivan, who finished his senior season this past spring with a 10-1 record and 1.135 ERA, signed a partial scholarship to play junior varsity baseball at Thomas University on Friday.
“This is the first baseball signing for our program,” Baconton Charter athletic director and assistant baseball coach John Pinson said. “He has really developed in the last 12 to 15 months. I think there is an upside to his arm because he hasn’t thrown a lot, so there isn’t a lot of mileage on his arm.”
It was a senior season to remember for Sullivan, who — along with junior Brock Pinson — was part of one of the best 1-2 pitching combinations in the area. He was a perfect 10-0 in the regular season, threw five complete games, struck out 64 and had one no-hitter. Sullivan could also hit, finishing the 2012 season with a .353 batting average, 18 runs and 13 RBI.
Sullivan began his high school career in the outfield but was persuaded by his American Legion coach the summer after his sophomore year to give pitching a shot.
“So I started pitching for him and then came back my junior year and threw for my high school team,” Sullivan said. “It’s a lot different from being way out in the outfield. You are the center of attention when you are on the mound.”
Sullivan, who will be majoring in business, was also approached by Bacone College (Okla.) and Salem International University (W. Va.), but he said he wanted to stay close to home. And John Pinson, who is also Sullivan’s uncle, said the NAIA school in Thomasville was a perfect fit.
“William is a great candidate for that program,” John said. “His pitching experience is limited. He basically pitched for just a full year now and part of his junior season. He really came on as a senior, and this program will help him to develop.”
John also agreed that Sullivan came a long way from his middle school days and remembered the rare times when they stuck him on the mound.
“We gave him a couple of opportunities. Maybe they were short-lived at the time, but it gave him just a little bit of incentive to work on it,” he said.
That determination — along with Sullivan’s fastball and curve ball — produced one of the best pitchers to come through the Baconton Charter program.
“Once he got it in his mind that he wanted to do it, he really worked at it with determination,” John said. “He worked on it a lot on his own outside of practice, got with his cousins and a couple of other friends who played baseball and did some throwing on his own. He has some self-determination, which pitchers have to have when they are on the mound.”