Minneapolis, Minn. – Eli Wilson comes the Gophers after having a .394 batting average, .469 on-base percentage and a .563 slugging percentage his senior season at Garfield High School.
The Seattle, Wash. native is one of eight freshman on the baseball team this season. Gophersports.com sat down with him to see why he loves the game so much.
GopherSports.com: How did you get into baseball?
Eli Wilson: Growing up baseball was always a part of my family. I loved playing wiffle ball in my backyard and I have been swinging a bat for as long as I can remember. Once I was old enough to play high school ball I was anxious to get out to the field and compete against the best players in the state of Washington.
GS: Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
EW: Both of my parents attended the university so it was always on my radar. I have a lot of family and close friends in the Minneapolis area, which made campus feel like home. I loved the academic opportunity I would get here and the baseball coaching staff are some of the best coaches I could ask for.
GS: What is your top baseball accomplishment so far?
EW: Getting to play here at an established division one program is definitely my top baseball accomplishment. Fresh of a Big Ten championship, Gopher baseball is an elite program. The coaching staff have been producing pro players for years and it is an honor to play for this team.
GS: Why do you enjoy baseball?
EW: My favorite part of baseball is the game within the game. There is a mental aspect of baseball that many sports don’t have, and that is what I find the most fun. Beyond that, I love the pressure moments late in big games. There is nothing quite like a walk off hit in sports.
GS: What are your interests outside of baseball?
EW: Outside of baseball I really like to do long distance running, as well as playing other sports like basketball, and spikeball.
GS: Have you learned anything new while being at the University of Minnesota?
EW: Being enrolled in Psychology 1001 I’ve learned a lot about the way humans think and behave. This knowledge has translated well into baseball helping me maximize my playing ability.
GS: Who is your favorite athlete?
EW: My favorite athlete is Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. Despite not being a baseball player, I believe Sherman has mastered the mental side of football. He is one of the smartest players in the NFL being a Stanford graduate, his playing style, sportsmanship, and leadership are all inspiring.
GS: Being a freshman, do you ask the upperclassmen for advice on how to succeed as a player as well as academically?
EW: I definitely look to upperclassmen for baseball advice. Fifth-year senior Matt Stemper has given me a lot of advice on catching in the Big Ten since he has been catching for the Gophers for over three years now. I look to the sophomores for academic advice as they took a lot of the same classes I am, just last year.
GS: How has your first year of college been? Any moments that stick out?
EW: My first year of college has been great. A few of the moments that stick out are moments in the weight room or during morning conditioning when the upperclassmen are firing up the team to push through the workouts.
GS: What are your thoughts about the fall Steak N’ Beans Series?
EW: Steak N’ Beans was a really fun series. Being on the Gold team it was nice to get a couple W’s and win the series. I thought the team as a whole played a clean series on defense, and pitchers did well commanding the strike zone while the hitters took advantage of rare mistakes over the plate.
GS: What are you looking forward to during the spring season?
EW: I am really looking forward to rivalry games in the Big Ten against teams like Michigan. Those games will be packed and the atmosphere will be awesome! I am also really excited to compete for a chance to play in Omaha. With a Big Ten championship under our belts I believe this team is ready to make the jump to the College World Series.
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