BATESVILLE, Ar. (KNWA/KFTA) – From a very young age, it was clear. Arkansas right-handed pitcher Gage Wood was going to be a pretty good baseball player.
“Probably when he was about nine. We started the live arm. You know, he would just pitch the ball. I mean, he didn’t throw hard, but it was just, he could locate you know. His nickname was Fathead and they would say, Fathead, you know, throw it inside and he did,” Gage’s mom Chasity Gould said.
Even though Wood would play any position on the field that was needed of him, his high school coach, Kelly Rush, knew he was destined to be a pitcher at the next level.
“He knew how to pitch and had multiple pitches: fastball, breaking ball, changeup. And then when the elite velocity came along, you know, and he kept working and got that, then that pushed him to the next level right there,” Rush said.
So what made Gage different than other pitchers at the high school level? His mom credits it to his dog mentality.
“I don’t know of anyone that’s ever outworked him. If I tell him we’re playing the Saint Louis Cardinals that day, he wanted the ball and was assuming he was going to beat them,” Rush said.
“So driven. And he’s one of those I think that as long as social media is saying that he can’t do it, they’re just pushing him harder. The more you tell him he can’t do it, the more he’s going to do it,” Gould said.
It’s those kind of comments that have fueled Wood and the reason he gets so fired up on the mound.
“There’s so many people that doubted that he was SEC quality, even D1 quality and he’s finally proved he deserves to be here, he’s like watch me,” Gould said.
While many Hog fans might be surprised at Wood’s performance so far with the Diamond Hogs, his coaches say they saw this coming.
“I’ve been blessed to be around some really good kids here in different sports, boys and girls. And he’s the one that will always stick out. He’s just different,” Batesville Strength and Conditioning coach Price Holmes said. “It doesn’t surprise me seeing him go and throw three scoreless, you know, even against the best in the country. I think he’s that good. And I think we haven’t seen his best.”
At the end of the day, he’s still just a boy from Arkansas and playing for the Hogs just means more to him.
“It means something different when an in-state kid plays for the Hogs and it means something different for him. He’s a good ole boy, he likes to fish and hunt and he loves the Hogs and so I think it’s just a little extra special when they are a hometown kid,” Holmes said.