By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — ANDERSON — Curtis Wilson’s introduction to high school baseball came in the 2010 Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament championship game.
Against arch-rival Highland.
In the Scots’ final Muller appearance before consolidation.
It wasn’t the most comfortable situation for a freshman pitcher, but Wilson battled through. He gave up just three hits and kept the Indians in the game. But Anderson couldn’t come up with a big hit with runners on base and dropped a 5-2 decision.
Three years later, as a senior, Wilson still wasn’t backing down from a challenge.
In his final start for the Indians, he struck out 10 Richmond batters over two days — spanning a rain delay that suspended the sectional opener in the second inning — helping Anderson advance with a 4-0 victory.
Remarkably, it was his fourth straight postseason win. Wilson picked up all three decisions in 2012 as the Tribe won its first sectional title in 17 years.
He finished his Anderson career with a 23-8 overall record, and he was 13-5 in his final two seasons. Wilson pitched to a 6-1 mark with a 1.47 ERA and one save this spring, and he’s been named The Herald Bulletin’s 2013 Baseball Pitcher of the Year.
“He was just solid,” Indians coach Terry Turner said. “You could always count on him.”
Turner first realized he had a special pitcher on his hands near the end of Wilson’s sophomore season. Anderson played Huntington North — a perennial power in the North Central Conference — and Wilson shut them down in a 6-0 victory.
His finest hour, however, might have come during last year’s sectional final against New Castle.
Wilson had thrown nearly 30 pitches in relief during a come-from-behind 5-4 victory against Pendleton Heights in the afternoon semifinals, but he didn’t hesitate to take the ball again for the title tilt.
He scattered six hits and struck out seven as the Indians clawed their way to a 6-0 victory to end their long sectional drought.
“That was a fun experience, for sure,” Wilson said. “Being able to win the sectional before you graduate, that can’t be taken away. That was the funnest year. Senior year was fun, too, but I think we all expected a little more.”
Anderson finished with a more than respectable 20-6 record this season, but it wound up as a campaign of almosts. The Indians finished second in the Muller tournament after a loss to Pendleton Heights in the final. They were one game behind New Castle in the final NCC standings, and they dropped a tight 2-0 decision against eventual champion Greenfield-Central in the sectional semifinals.
Wilson also came within a whisker of a perfect season.
His only blemish was a 4-3 loss at Logansport in which the Berries scored three runs in the sixth inning without hitting the ball out of the infield.
Almost perfect. Almost champions. Almost a season for the ages.
Through it all, Wilson was a vocal leader when he needed to be. When he wasn’t on the mound, he played centerfield and helped the Indians offense from the top of the lineup.
He refuses to let the near misses haunt him. By any measure, Anderson had an outstanding run during his career. And he’s right to focus on the positive.
“There’s nothing to regret,” he said. “These were the best four years of my life.”
The question is what’s next?
In August, he’ll report to Danville Community College in Illinois and begin preparing for a 25-game fall schedule. The highlight will come Sept. 29 at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium where the team will play immediately following a major league game between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
Beyond that, the kid who never backs down from a challenge is keeping all of his options open.
“The goal to begin with is to play (NCAA) Division I (baseball),” Wilson said, hoping to make the leap after two years in Danville. “If I can get my velocity up and I happen to maybe get drafted, that would be another scenario.”
Wilson spent his entire high school career as a two-sport start, starting all four years at quarterback for the Anderson football team. He attended a recent workout and felt odd watching from the sideline. But he said he won’t miss the physical pounding from the game.
He’s looking forward to improving by focusing solely on baseball for the first time. A full-time pitching coach likely will help him better work his legs into his delivery, and that could add inches to his fastball.
“It’s going to be different,” he said of college life. “I’ve always been a double-sport athlete. But I think I’ll get used to it quickly.”
2013 All-THB Baseball Team Cody Altherr, Pendleton Heights Brent Blackwell, Daleville Brady Cherry, Lapel Taylor Clark, Daleville Hunter Cook, Pendleton Heights Trevor Conner, Shenandoah Derek Dinehart, Alexandria Donnie Dinehart, Alexandria Jake Fox, Anderson Brogan Gary, Pendleton Heights Jon Griffey, Frankton Blaize Kelly, Alexandria Justin Krieg, Liberty Christian Matt Kunce, Frankton John Magers, Lapel Peyton Newsom, Anderson Jerred Quartier, Anderson Taylor Rogers, Pendleton Heights Zach Sanderson, Anderson Adam Taylor, Lapel Jacob Troxell, Lapel Logan Weins, Frankton Drew Wells, Elwood Curtis Wilson, Anderson Owen Young, Alexandria Pendleton Heights' Sean Brady was inadvertently left off the All HB Boys Track Team in Monday's edition. We regret the omission.