It was a long road to get to Arkansas for Charlie Welch and he was on a road trip when he found out he was going to be a Razorback.
He was driving back home to Florida from Texas after playing a season of summer ball when Arkansas offered him a spot on the team.
“He was elated beyond belief, he couldn’t believe it,” said Tim Welch, Charlie’s father. “He knew going in there was going to be a lot of competition and it really was not defined on what his role was going to be.”
But fighting for his spot on the team is nothing new for Charlie, who his father describes as a “blue-collared” baseball player. One that just puts their head down and works.
He embraced the role of a pinch hitter for Arkansas and thrived. Welch ended the season leading the Razorbacks in batting average (.388), 25 RBI and eight home runs.
And Welch has been working on his power hitting since he was younger than a teenager.
“At age 12, he started getting up at like 5:45 in the morning doing push ups and sits ups. And then we went a bought him a pull-up bar,” said Tim. “He’s got something inside of him that’s kind of this burning desire. And the more that he was told ‘no’ in the (recruiting) process kind of fueled that fire.”
Welch wanted to play for Dave Van Horn and Arkansas in high school, but just wasn’t at their level of play. So he spent his freshman year at Pepperdine and his sophomore year at St. John’s Rivers State College.
Fast forward to today and that blue-collared work ethic not only brought Welch to Arkansas, but has almost immortalized him.
He pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth in game two against Florida, only to hit a walk-off RBI double to clinch the SEC regular season championship. He also hit a three-run home run to seal Arkansas’ NCAA Regional championship victory over Nebraska.
“When he hit that ball against Nebraska. (My wife and I) both just embraced each other and we fell to the ground crying,” said Tim. “Any parent obviously wants to see their kid succeed, but when you watch your kid on a really big stage at a really big event and a lot on the line… All those years of hard work you see come to fruition.”
Welch quickly became a fan favorite at Baum-Walker Stadium. And with the Razorback faithful behind him, Welch felt unstoppable this season.
“When he walked out of the dugout, that place erupted,” said Tim. “And he told me, he said, ‘Dad, when I heard all that cheering going on, he I said, I felt like King Kong in the box. Like I can hit anything because I have 11,000 or 12,000 fans behind me.”