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THE GRIND: For West's Wyatt Crowell, all the frustration has paid off

Wyatt Crowell is not the first big-time pitcher to emerge from Forsyth County’s high school ranks, but he doesn’t exactly fit the mold. Crowell, a junior at West Forsyth, isn’t like Ethan Hankins, or Dakota Chalmers, or Seth Beer, who wound up being better known for his bat but also touched the 90s off the mound at Lambert.

Crowell does not pop off the field physically like those players: He’s currently 5-foot-11 with an unintimidating frame, and he doesn’t expect a massive growth spurt to come soon. He was typically one of the smallest players on his team in youth baseball, and that caused plenty of frustration, enough for him to be fully fed up with the sport at one point.

“I wasn’t sure if this is what I was going to do when I was older and stuff,” Crowell said. “So I just wanted to try other things, but my dad would just be like, ‘No, you’re playing baseball. You don’t understand how good you are.’”

That turned out to be sound guidance. Crowell may not be tall, but his arm is plenty big, with his fastball reaching the upper 80s with regularity. And while that number may not be remarkable anymore in the upper echelon of high school baseball, Crowell does plenty to accent it.

The left-hander has a particularly tricky delivery, slinging the ball across his body from a near-sidearm arm slot, and also whips in a breaking ball that can touch the low 80s. A minor arm injury has kept him off the mound for much of this season, but his performance as a sophomore and over the summer for powerhouse program Team Elite caught the eye of plenty of college powers, and Crowell committed to Florida State over the summer.

West Forsyth's Wyatt Crowell takes a swing during the Wolverines' game against Gainesville on March 6, 2019 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
Crowell’s prowess on the mound isn’t the only asset he brings to the Wolverines, though, and it isn’t even the first thing that got him on the varsity team. He’s a very capable hitter from the left side, compiling a .306 average as a regular member of West’s lineup as a sophomore, and has above-average speed, having clocked a 6.84 time in the 60-yard dash

“So I remember going to Lambert and watching him play his freshman year,” Wolverines head coach Mike Pruitt said. “He was on base twice that night and deked himself into extra bases, doing things special that you don't teach, (that) guys just know how to do.”

Crowell had a limited debut with the Wolverines as a freshman year as a position player, and his true potential started to become apparent that following summer, when he received his first college offer. He was one of the last players on his team to talk to big-time colleges, and while the excitement of the situation definitely got to Crowell at first, he was sure not to make a commitment too early.

“I was like, ‘All right, there’s definitely going to be a lot more colleges I’m going to talk to, so I’ve just got to wait it out and see what fits me best,’” Crowell said.

It came down to Alabama and Florida State for Crowell, and he opted for the latter, having been influenced by his father’s fanhood growing up and seeing the Seminoles’ remarkable consistency as a program.

Crowell’s future looks as promising as his present, and Pruitt could tell that well before Crowell showed up in high school. He was one of the first attendees of the rec league camps that Pruitt would run when he started at West, and Crowell stood out easily, even back then.

“Never said anything, never talked to anybody, but he was just a really good player,” Pruitt said. “That was my first encounter with Wyatt, and I always though, ‘Man, I hope I’m still around to coach this kid, because I think he’s going to be pretty good.’”