Zach Woolard signs to play baseball at N.C. Wesleyan

Published 5:49 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2017

PINETOWN — Northside pitcher Zach Woolard recently made his collegiate plans official. The senior righty signed to play for North Carolina Wesleyan beginning next season.

It’s been in the works for about a year. Wesleyan coaches saw him play in Georgia during the summer leading into his junior year. Woolard said some of the coaches heard about him from players that saw the Panthers top Pender in the second round of the 2017 playoffs.

Once Woolard went to camp recently and was offered the following day, the decision was easy.

“They seem like a great group of coaches that work with the players,” he said. “They want to know their players individually. They want to know their specialties and what they can do, and improve the players over the four years they’re there.”

Putting pen to paper on his commitment accomplished a lifelong goal for Woolard. He’s been working tirelessly with Northside and travel teams for the past few years. He’s learned lessons along the way that will benefit him at the collegiate level.

“Someone is always watching you. At your highs and lows, someone is always there,” Woolard said, detailing a specific teaching he keeps with him. “They’ll notice everything you do.”

Woolard continuing his baseball career is also a point of pride for the entire Northside community. Coach Keith Boyd said Woolard’s accomplishments represent the school’s athletics programs well.

For Boyd, though, Woolard’s commitment means a little extra. He’s been coaching Woolard and a number of his fellow seniors since they were 9- and 10-year-olds playing recreation baseball.

“Zach and those seniors, we kind of got started on ground level,” Boyd said. “I’ve seen them grow. I’ve seen them mature. I’ve seen them get better at things, of course. Zach, the thing he’s really worked on hard is the mental part of the game.”

Zach Woolard throws to a Southside batter during an Easter tournament game last year.

Baseball is as mental as a sport can get. Boyd believes Woolard’s strides in that aspect will benefit him at the college level.

“He doesn’t let the little things bother him. That’s kind of got him to that next level,” Boyd said.

As a pitcher, Woolard led Northside with six wins in 13 appearances (eight starts) last year. His 1.93 earned-runs average was second to fellow senior Reg Bishop. He notched 56 strikeouts to just 17 walks in 50 2/3 innings pitched.

Woolard, when not on the mound, contributed in the infield and at the plate. He was a stout third baseman. He tallied six runs and five RBI. His all-around efforts helped the Panthers amass 19 wins and reach the third round of the playoffs.

As exciting as knowing his future is, Woolard isn’t looking past this season. Northside lost four seniors from last year’s team, but can return as many as nine seniors this season. He and the Panthers’ large senior class have goals already outlined for 2018.

“The expectations, for me, are the same as they’ve been all three years I’ve been here,” Woolard said. “It’s to go out there, help my team win, and go as far as we can — get a state championship.”