It has been a long road for former Ooltewah High School pitcher Daniel Willie and there is still more of it to navigate, but Friday night the Montreat College hurler will taste the fruits of his labor.
Willie, a 2017 grad who helped lead the Owls to District and region titles, has been named the starting pitcher for the Premier Collegiate league East All-Stars when the game is played at Municipal Stadium in Tarboro, NC.
Willie, who leads the PCL in WHIP (1.14) and is second in ERA with a 3.43 mark and third in strikeouts with 24, is finally healthy two years removed from Tommy John surgery at Cleveland State, and has dazzled in his first summer in one of the nation’s top wood bat collegiate leagues.
“There were times when I didn’t know what laid ahead for me as far as throwing a baseball, but I kept my head down and just put in the work. Right before I had surgery, I was throwing better than I ever had, and it was a challenge for me to try and get back to that pot. I feel like I have finally crossed that bridge, and I am excited to work towards taking it to the next level. Baseball has been fun again this summer,” said Willie, who pitches for the PCL’s Edenton Steamers.
The PCL is based out of North Carolina and Virginia and Edenton plays its games at Historic Hick Field in Edenton, NC. The Steamers are currently 14-9 at the break.
Willie has seen his velocity sit between 85-88 and has topped out at 90, but it is his wipe out slider that has been his money pitch. In 21 innings pitched, he has struck out 24 hitters and walked just five.
“The arm feels good, and it feels good deep into a game. I’m excited to represent Edenton in the all-star game, but to get the starting nod is really special. It is a tough league and a lot of really good players competing from some top-notch college programs. It’s been a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to closing out the summer strong,” Willie added.
Oakland A’s starter Chris bassett, who made his first MLB all-star game last week, is one of the most recent PCL alumni to reach the big leagues. Bassett pitched for the Steamers.