06/11/11 — Kevin Wise - All-Area baseball player of the year

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Kevin Wise - All-Area baseball player of the year

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on June 11, 2011 11:03 PM

Kevin Wise admits he was nervous stepping on to the baseball field for the first time with the varsity team as a freshman at Southern Wayne.

Two years later, Wise is no longer nervous and he is far from satisfied.

With a burning desire for perfection instilled in him by his grandfather, Wise hit .488 this season with 34 RBI and five home runs. He helped Southern Wayne to a 16-8 record and a berth in the N.C. High Athletic Association Class 3-A state playoffs.

For his efforts, Wise is the 2011 News-Argus All-Area Baseball Player-of-the-Year.

Constantly honing his craft, Wise dedicates the large majority of his free time to baseball. Whether it is taking extra swings in the batting cage, sharpening his defense or improving his speed, Wise is continually working to be the best at his position.

"I'm never satisfied at what I do," said Wise, a junior center fielder. "I'm always working hard to get better and I want to try to be the best there is. My grandfather, Charles Swinson, he felt like if there was something he could work at he would keep going until he got it right.

"I try to be the same way."

The experience of three varsity seasons along with playing American Legion baseball has improved Wise's discipline at the plate. Increased pitch recognition and the ability to lay off pitches he used to chase has put Wise in more favorable counts.

An intelligent base runner with above average speed, Wise is described by Southern Wayne head coach Trae McKee as 'a five-tool guy. Wise can run, hit for power and average, play well defensively and as a player with a strong arm.

"He's got unbelievable bat speed and I think the approach that he took this year at the plate testament to the success he had, also," said McKee. "It came with a

bit of maturity that he was able to lay off border-line pitches. He's getting in better counts to hit and he's not scared to hit with two strikes, either."

During batting practice or off-season workouts, Wise can typically be found in the outfield working on reading fly balls off the bat and improving his routes. His ability to make highlight-reel catches look routine in games comes from hours of making those same catches when no one but his teammates are watching.

"I work on reading the ball from the bat and getting behind it," said Wise. "Those diving catches are all about being able to stretch out to catch the ball. It takes a lot of practice to know when to dive and how far to go. I take a lot of pride in my defense."

A leader by example moreso than with words, Wise has quickly transformed from a freshman not completely sure of himself into a model of consistency. McKee fully appreciates the value of being able to pencil his center fielder into the No. 2 hole in his lineup and knowing what to expect on a daily basis.

"You can't put a price tag on that," said McKee. "It's invaluable. You know that he is going to be playing hard and there's not any distractions. He's going to be focused on what he's going to do. His work ethic becomes contagious and he demands a lot of himself and demands a lot of his teammates."