Paragould High School senior Blaine Wood hopes to contribute in the field, at the plate and on the mound for the Williams Baptist University baseball team in 2022.
Wood signed with the Eagles during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon. He said WBU recruited him as a shortstop and a pitcher, roles he currently fills for the Rams.
“It’s really a dream come true,” Wood said after signing his scholarship paperwork with WBU. “I’ve been working for this for a long time and I know Coach (Dakota) Weatherley, my high school coach, he’s really pushed me and he’s helped me get my name in the door so I can play at Williams. I’m really excited to go there and I’m ready to have good years there.”
Wood has been a fixture in the lineup every game for Weatherley, who is entering his fourth year as Paragould’s head coach. Voted by his teammates as a captain, Wood is one of the squad’s leaders as well as a key player in the lineup.
“Even as a freshman, he was a leader on our team. He’s a guy you can rely on, he’s always there, and he’s a gamer,” Weatherley said. “He’s a switch hitter, our shortstop and leadoff hitter since he was a ninth-grader. I think he’s started all 52 games we’ve played since he was a ninth-grader. He’s somebody you can count on when you need him.”
Weatherley pitched a no-hitter against Marmaduke, striking out nine batters, before the 2020 season was cut short because of COVID-19. He helped Paragould Glen Sain finish second in the American Legion AAA state tournament in 2019.
“I’ve really improved on my fielding,” Wood said of his high school career. “Since coming here, I’ve been able to make the plays that I need to make.”
Hitting from both sides of the plate is a fairly recent development for Wood, Weatherley said.
“As a ninth-grader he only hit from the right side,” Weatherley said. “He’s a natural righty but in my opinion, he’s probably a better overall hitter as a left-handed hitter. He’s a true switch hitter who flips with the pitcher and switches every day. He’s dedicated to it.”
Wood said he plans to continue as a switch hitter with the Eagles.
“Fortunately I’ve been able to hit .300 my first three seasons with Paragould,” he said, “and I plan to continue that and take that to Williams.”