One of Northeast Mississippi Community College’s most reliable arms from a year ago will continue his career in one of the most competitive leagues in the entire country.
Ryan Wesson, who is currently preparing for his sophomore season with the Tigers, has signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to become the newest addition to the baseball program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“We’re very, very excited for him and this opportunity,” said Northeast headman Richy Harrelson. “It’s his work ethic and desire that sets him apart. He has the ability to throw four pitches for a strike and has confidence.
“He’s going to step up and do what he’s always done. He’s just a super competitor and we expect great things out of him. All around he’s a good player. He’s going to do great things down there.”
The Blazers have reached the championship game of the Conference USA Tournament twice in the last five years and are under the direction of Brian Shoop, who is one of the top 20 winningest active head coaches in college baseball.
“It’s huge for me, especially to go play at the D-I level,” Wesson said. “The campus is phenomenal. I bought into what the coaches were saying as soon as I met them. I think that they can help me grow a lot.”
Wesson was dominant throughout his freshman campaign in the City of Hospitality. He began the year in a relief role, but soon found a place as one of the primary pieces in the starting rotation.
The Baldwyn High School graduate made his debut for the Tigers on opening day against Columbia State (Tenn.) Community College. He tossed 1.1 innings with two strikeouts in a small demonstration of what was to come later in the season.
Wesson earned his first victory less than one week later during Northeast’s return trip to Columbia State. He allowed only one hit and struck out four in 3.2 innings of relief work against the Chargers.
He made his inaugural start for the Tigers during a 5-2 win over Jackson State (Tenn.) Community College in mid-February. Wesson lasted four frames and mixed seven hits with seven punch-outs.
Wesson threw a pair of complete games last season in a home triumph over Meridian Community College and a heartbreaking one-run loss to Northwest Mississippi Community College.
The 6-1, 170-pounder also helped the Tigers capture a road sweep of rival Itawamba Community College by winning the nightcap. He gave up just one run and three hits to the Indians over 6.2 innings of stellar work.
Perhaps his best performance of the campaign was at East Mississippi Community College. He set a career-high with 10 strikeouts compared to only two walks in a thrilling 3-2 decision over the Lions.
“The main key is just getting on the mound and staying relaxed,” said Wesson. “You can’t get up tight out there. You have to trust yourself and throw the ball. Just let the pitching mentality take over. I have faith in my fielders behind me.”
Wesson compiled a team-low 2.21 earned run average. His ERA was the third smallest in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) and tied for 17th nationally.
He also led Northeast in wins with six and strikeouts at 61. Wesson had the second-most innings pitched on the squad with 61 and his 17 walks were the second fewest among the Tigers’ regular starters as well.
Thirteen of the 15 games in which Wesson appeared during the previous campaign were decided by two runs or less. He surrendered only 1.5 runs per outing in his first year on the Booneville campus.
He is the eleventh Northeast standout over the last four seasons to ink with a four-year institution. The Tigers have had at least one NCAA Division I signee in each of the last three years.
CUTLINES (PHOTOS: Michael H. Miller/Northeast Public Information)
Northeast Mississippi Community College sophomore pitcher Ryan Wesson has signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to play at the University of Alabama at Birmingham beginning with the 2018 season. Joining Wesson (sitting, center) at a signing ceremony on the Booneville campus are (standing) Northeast head coach Richy Harrelson, (sitting, left) mother Katrina Wesson and (sitting, right) father Lance Wesson.
Head shot of Ryan Wesson, who will play NCAA Division I baseball starting in 2018 at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.