Pike Lib senior Will Rice signs with Wallace Community College

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2024

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On Wednesday, Pike Liberal Arts senior pitcher Will Rice signed his college letter-of-intent to play college baseball at Wallace Community College in Dothan.

Rice signed with Wallace over an on offer from Enterprise State Community College.

“An opportunity came up for me there and I felt like that was the place for me,” Rice said of his decision. “I talked to (Wallace) Coach CJ (Upshaw) over there and he was a really nice guy. I came there a couple of summers ago to play summer ball and I loved the field there.

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“I talked to Coach CJ for the first time then and Coach Ryan (Ihle) was really nice, too. I just felt like it was the right place for me. I’m very thankful for this opportunity.”

Rice is coming off a junior campaign that saw him pitch just 17 and 1/3 innings after battling through a shoulder injury. In his time on the mound, Rice earned a 3-1 record with 19 strikeouts. Despite the injury, he came back to earn three wins as a starting pitcher in the playoffs. As a sophomore, Rice helped Pike Lib win an AISA State Championship and struck out 33 batters with a 3.782 ERA in 24 innings pitched.

The senior was very thankful for the support his family has shown him during his baseball career.

“The idea of playing college baseball has been a big goal of mine for a long time. I couldn’t have done it without my family, teammates and coaches,” Rice said. “My mom and my sister have been to almost every single game of mine and have been the best support I could ask for. It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees or 30 degrees outside, they would still be there cheering me on.

“Ever since I was six years old my dad knew I could pursue baseball in a serious way. He started paying for pitching lessons when I was nine years old because he knew it would be worth it in the end. There isn’t a night where he isn’t making sure I’m working out or throwing on my own and that goes a long way in making me better. My dad has been one of the main reasons I am able to play at the next level and I am so thankful for him.”

Rice also thanked his teammates and coaches.

“I’ve never had a teammate that didn’t believe in me when I had the baseball in my hand. Pike Baseball has been one of the best things that has happened to me in my career and I wouldn’t trade any of my teammates for any other players in the world,” he continued. “They have helped me make ever-lasting memories that I’m forever grateful for. Coaches are a very important part of any players career. Coach Rush (Hixon), Coach Ross (Hixon), Coach (Hunter) Mann and Coach Nathan (Renfroe) gave me a sophomore season to remember. They gave me countless opportunities to pitch even though we had a handful of pitchers better than me.

“When Coach Will (Austin) came to Pike, I knew he would lead us to success. He’s always been so supportive of me throughout this process. He’s always asking me if I want to go to a showcase or talk to a college coach. I know Coach Will has always been confident in my ability and that means the world to me.”

Rice, who said he hopes to pursue engineering in college, wants to eventually make it to the four-year level of college baseball but that’s not all he’s focusing on.

“I want to improve as a player and learn new things,” he said. “I know I’m not there all the way yet and I know in college – at the next level – you’ll learn a lot of new things. I want to learn things I don’t even know about yet and just keep getting better as a player.”

Before that, though, Rice is focused on getting another championship ring.

“Hopefully we can get a ring, first off,” Rice said of his senior goals. “I want to build some strong bonds with my teammates and make some more memories that will lead me into my college career.”