The moment has never appeared too big for Will McGillis.
It’s well-known the former Presbyterian Christian baseball star can rack up clutch home runs, key base hits and game-changing defensive plays on the regular.
Still, McGillis admits he’s a bit antsy in anticipation for his first game in a Southern Miss uniform. That will come Friday, February 16 at Pete Taylor Park for the freshman Golden Eagle. For now though, he’s just trying to make it to the beginning of official practices on Friday.
“We’ve just been doing individual, 4-on-1 stuff. So we’ll really start rolling on Friday,” McGillis said. “It will probably fly by before the first game. We’re all so excited. Can’t wait for my first college game. It’s going to be a good experience.”
Several Golden Eagles, like sophomore catcher Bryant Bowen, have tried to coach McGillis up on what that experience will be like. One thing appears certain: It will be a moment and a game McGillis will probably never forget.
“They said the butterflies would be rolling pretty good. So I’m excited to finally get to do it. You only get to do it once, your first game.”
At this moment in time, it’s unclear if McGillis will make an impact for the Golden Eagles this spring. He’s primarily worked at shortstop, his natural position at PCS, and is willing to do whatever it takes to hit the field in 2018.
“I’m going to trust the process,” McGillis said. “Whatever Coach [Scott] Berry wants is what I’ll do.”
Despite missing a significant portion of his senior season at PCS due to recovery from a torn ACL, McGillis put up big numbers and helped the Bobcats win their first playoff series since 2006. Since then, he’s fully recovered from the injury.
“I had to wear a brace at the end of the high school season and all of fall,” McGillis said. “But I’m out of the brace now and a full go.”
Now’s time to, as McGillis put it, trust the process and learn as much as possible from the team’s veterans. Like Matt Wallner for example, who’s coming off a monster freshman season for the Golden Eagles, eventually being named National Freshman of the Year by D1Baseball.com.
“Wallner was National Freshman of the Year, an All-American and a Preseason All-American this year. All this hype, and he comes in and works,” McGillis said. “He works on his craft and doesn’t let the noise get to him. He’s really humble.”
McGillis admits he’s got plenty to work on in order to see the field in the near future. He says that starts and ends with consistency at the plate and in the field.
“In high school, you face a Division I pitcher a couple times a season. Here, it’s going to be every game. Every pitcher is a high caliber pitcher. Just gotta learn to trust the approach and not take an at-bat off. And not take a play off defensively. It’s going to be a long season. Just gotta trust the process.”
McGillis is one of four freshmen who joined the Golden Eagles this past fall. Another, Drew Boyd, played his high school ball at Oak Grove. Although both come from local schools, the two had not met until very recently.
“I didn’t know him [Boyd] well. I met him one time at Chick-Fil-A,” McGillis recalled. “We just happened to run into each other. He’s my roommate. There’s only 4 freshmen, so me, Drew, Jacob [Weirich] and Ryan [Och], we’re really close and do everything together. It’s been fun.”
As previously mentioned, McGillis and the Golden Eagles will kick off the 2018 season with a much-anticipated three-game series versus Mississippi State. If ordering through Southern Miss’ ticket website, single game tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Thursday, February 1.