Before looking at any statistics, seeing 19 seniors on Forsyth Central’s baseball roster should have indicated to any high school sports fan that his year had the makings of being a special season.
After looking at the numbers, there was a clear dominant presence on the mound by the name of Will Robbins, who helped lead the Bulldogs to an appearance in the Class 7A Final Four.
“I try to be as humble as possible,” Robbins said. “I’ve always felt like I still have something to work on.”
Through Robbins’ first three pitching appearances of the season, he threw 13 2/3 hitless innings and struck out 35 batters. He ended the season 9-0 with a 0.62 ERA, striking out 149 batters and walking only 16.
His performance earned him Region 6-7A Player of the Year, first-team all-state and Perfect Game All-American, on top of other numerous awards and recognitions.
“When you learn about the accolades, it feels cool for about a day,” Robbins said. “I’m always striving to be better. Twenty years from now, I can see that I won player of the year, but my goal is to play in the big leagues and help a team win a World Series.”
The path to dominance on the mound started with a path on the golf course.
Robbins said his dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a competitive golfer. Once he found out Robbins was left-handed, a family friend encouraged him to sign Robbins up for baseball.
“So, around 3 or 4 years old, he gave me a glove and I started throwing,” Robbins said. “As I got better, I fell in love with the sport.”
Robbins started emulating fellow southpaw Tom Glavine on the mound and went as far as wearing his number, 47, throughout childhood. When Robbins made one of the top travel ball teams in the state at 16, the East Cobb Astros, he started believing he was one of the best in the state.
“You had to produce on the field or you wouldn’t play at all,” Robbins said. “Hands down, the best way to get better is to play with people who are better than you. I gave up hitting over the summers. I just focused on pitching and it worked out.”
It was his exposure during the summers that led to Georgia Southern first recruiting Robbins. Robbins said he did not have too many offers when the Eagles first offered him, but it felt like the perfect place to be.
“All the coaches are awesome,” Robbins said. “I’m ready to get down there. I don’t like big cities. I’m more of a country boy, so I think Statesboro is going to be a good fit for me.”
Robbins said that he would love to be able to continue playing the field and hitting for Georgia Southern. His team-high .353 batting average, five home runs and 30 RBIs suggest that he should get an opportunity to prove himself.
Once Robbins committed last summer, he had no desire to slow down and take his senior season with ease. In fact, it pushed him even harder than before.
“Over the summer and last fall, I started putting a lot of work into it,” Robbins said. “Once I committed, I did not want to settle down. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to have a dominant year.”
This season was the first that Robbins played on the same team with Central’s other 18 seniors. Robbins said they talked in the years leading up that this would be the season they left everything on the field.
“Man, we did everything this year,” Robbins said. “Anything you could think about, we’d be together. Some people thought we were crazy when we dyed our hair blonde. We were hard and honest with each other, but we had fantastic chemistry.”
A creature of habit, Robbins would share the same prayer with his catcher John Goodrow before each game, asking for composure if the game started going in the other team’s favor. This keeps Robbins at peace and ready to pitch.
“When I’m pitching, from the point I walk out to the locker room, I’ll be locked in from then to my final pitch of the game,” Robbins said. “If it was a close game, I’d sit in one spot of the dugout and just think about the next out.”
Central lost four of its first six region games, scoring only nine runs in the losses. Robbins credited head coach Kevin McCollum for throwing what he guessed was around 800 pitches in batting practice every day.
The Bulldogs won their next nine games to take control of Region 6-7A. The team finished second in the region, just one game behind Denmark. However, the team’s run throughout the state tournament proved they belonged, beating Archer, Mill Creek and Grayson along the way.
“I hope we have a state champion in the future years,” he said. “But yeah, it’s really cool to say we’re the best team to ever come through the school in 65 years. In the end, it’s just a ton of buddies getting together to play baseball.”