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2018 All-FCN Baseball Player of the Year: Will Patota, Pinecrest Academy
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Will Patota was the 2018 Forsyth County News Player of the Year as a senior at Pinecrest, finishing with a .438 batting average, 14 home runs and 12 doubles. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

Will Patota isn’t unhappy with his current position, but he knows that certain things would have been
different if he’d gone to a larger public school.

“There’s no doubt in my mind — I think I’d be committed to a major DI school,” Patota said. “But the
things I’ve learned at Pinecrest are priceless. They’ve taught me a lot of lessons I don’t think I would
have learned at a bigger school.”

Pinecrest, even with its status as a Class 1A school, has produced some of the top bats to come out of
the county in recent memory, with 2017 grad Ryan McCarthy cracking the lineup at The Citadel, despite playing football in the fall, and 2016 alum Andres Perez turning in one of the best offensive seasons in Division II at North Georgia this spring.

Patota’s performance this spring might have been the best of all. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound infielder
started socking home runs early in the spring and rarely paused to rest, amassing 14 in total, including
three in the Paladins’ state quarterfinal series against Holy Innocents’. He also hit .438 and had 12
doubles and 29 walks.

It didn’t take long for opposing teams to take notice of the threat Patota presented, and the walks he
compiled are evidence of that. Patota had never been pitched around to that extent in his career, and the lack of hittable pitches required an adjustment period.

“A lot of the time, I was taking swings at some pretty bad pitches, and I’d strike out or roll over,” Patota
said. “It was just frustrating at times, but I ended up getting used to it.”

Patota attributed much of the power surge he showed this spring to offseason work with Paladins
assistant coach Ariel Polanco, who taught Patota to keep his back side put, rather than lunging forward like had done in the past. And while Patota didn’t totally buy into the focus on hitting fly balls and
creating launch angle that’s sweeping the college and pro ranks, he also took his whacks when he had
the chance.

“Whenever I was in a 3-0 count, if it’s a fastball down the middle, I’m swinging for the fences,” Patota
said.

The interest from Division I schools did eventually come for Patota, who said he had offers from schools like Rutgers and Indiana, but he opted to sign with Southern Union Community College, which could give him a better shot at finding a spot with an SEC team. And while he’s been in contact with pro scouts this spring, Patota doesn’t see a realistic scenario where he would sign out of high school.

He’s clearly shaken off the small-school stigma, and numbers like what Patota put up are significant
anywhere.

“A lot of people think 1A baseball is a joke,” Patota said. “But there’s talent wherever you play.”