Meet D-III Methodist University’s newest Monarch, ex-HCA standout Roberts

Will Roberts
HCA’s Will Roberts signed with D-III  Methodist University flanked by his parents: Ronald and Kristy Roberts. Photo provided
BASEBALL

Six-foot-4, 182-pound

right-hander finished

second in the county in Ks

BY TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Acronyms surround our daily life. Just try to read any teenager’s next text message. LOL.

Athletically-speaking, baseball has its own language.

Meet recent Hernando Christian Academy graduate Will Stephen Roberts.

Roberts was a P.O., or pitcher only, for the Lions.

The 6-foot-four, 182-pounder, who hit .353 and drove in team-best 26 runs, served as the staff ace after transferring from Sunlake High School in Land O’ Lakes in 2016 to the Brooksville campus.

The right-hander, along with his younger brother, freshman Beau Roberts, helped infuse Head Coach Tony Alvarez’s fifth team to an 11-13 won-lost slate.

Methodist University Monarchs
Methodist University Monarchs

Though the Lions were eliminated in the opening round of the Class 2A, District 5 playoffs by St. Petersburg-Canterbury, 8-0, Roberts capped his season by signing with the Division III Methodist University Monarchs of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Roberts 101

Will was born in Tampa as the older of two sons to Ronald and Kristy Roberts.

The Roberts have called Lutz home for just over 16 years.

Will’s athletic roots trace back to Land O’ Lakes Little League.

He played third base, first base and pitched for five seasons.

Next, followed a brief one-year stint with Idlewild soccer.

From Kindergarten until eighth grade, Roberts attended Land O’ Lakes Christian School, but the Eagles didn’t field a baseball program.

As a freshman, he enrolled at nearby Sunlake High.

Sunlake Seahawks
Sunlake Seahawks

During his frosh and sophomore seasons, Roberts began both campaigns at the junior varsity level and was promoted to the varsity by season’s end.

As a sophomore, he enjoyed a cup of coffee: pitching one inning in one varsity game.

As a junior, Roberts eventually played in four games with the Seahawks and twirled 4.2 frames yielding nine runs, including eight earned.

With his younger brother, Beau, entering his freshman year in 2017, Will says he yeaned for the two of them to play together.

The search started and ended by enrolling at HCA. The 40-minute ride down U.S. 41 didn’t prove too daunting a task.

Beau Roberts hit .297 playing second base and outfielder as a first-year varsity starter along side his brother.

But the good fortune didn’t last long.

In a spring break snowing trip to Colorado, Beau broke left wrist and missed the rest of the season.

Undaunted, Will remained a pillar of strength for the Brooksville nine pacing the club in appearances (12), starts (9), innings pitched (50.2), complete games (1), strikeouts (89), ratio of strikeouts to walk 3:1, earned run average (1.38) and wins (4).

Outside of baseball, he was also a member of the HCA golf team under Pastor Jeff Moore. As the team’s third-lowest scorer, Roberts averaged 60.8 shots per nine holes.

He was also a member of the Science & Engineering Club at HCA.

In all, Roberts maintained a terrific 3.5 unweighted and 4.0 weighted grade point average.

His favorite course was advanced placement calculus.

Why a pitcher?

The blonde-tressed and blue-eyed Roberts revealed he always loved baseball because he always wanted to be a pitcher.

“I wanted to be a pitcher because then you can control the whole game,” explained the 17-year-old Roberts. “I thought whenever I was on the mound I gave my team their best chance to win.”

Tony Alvarez
Tony Alvarez

On why Roberts family enrolled at HCA, “There are a couple of reasons,” stressed Roberts. “When I was at Land O’ Lakes Christian, I thrived in the more academic surroundings. I also heard a lot about Coach Tony (Alvarez) and (Asst. Coach Eddie) Looper.

“Also playing at HCA made it a lot closer for my grandparents, who live just south of Floral City, to attend,” added Will. “Besides HCA’s academics, I really wanted to play with my brother on the same team. I didn’t think that would happen at Sunlake.”

On switching schools, “The transition was pretty smooth,” identified Roberts. “Everyone at HCA was welcoming. It felt a lot like Land O’ Lakes Christian; a smaller school where everyone knew each other. I felt right at home.”

Despite being the new kid on the block, Roberts came out of his proverbial leadership shell to help guide the younger Lions.

“The skill level here I knew wasn’t the same (like Sunlake),” shared Roberts. “My job was to make sure everyone was focused. We had some focus issues, but the other captains (Kasey Springer and Michael Valdez) did a nice job of pulling everyone together.”

On rewinding his season, “I was really successful, it was Coach Alvarez’s most wins in five years here,” recalled Roberts.

In falling three times to always-tough Canterbury, “Their leadoff batter is going to UCF. He‘s a great hitter. By far our defense was our weakest link. Canterbury‘s defense was better at taking hits away with their defense.”

Mirror, mirror

In assessing his style, Roberts described himself as a strikeout pitcher.

“I was a strikeout pitcher at HCA, but I see myself as a ground ball guy at the next level,” said Roberts, who recorded more than 10 punch outs three times during the season . “Technically, I can throw eight pitches from different arm slots for strikes. My bread ’n butter? It’s my over the top slider that has a lot of break. That pitch is rarely fouled off.

“When I faced tough guys like Canterbury’s leadoff batter, I typically stuck to two fast balls and a slider combination,” said Roberts. “Hands down my biggest improvement came with my leadership skills. I got to experience what it’s like to be a leader to help run the team and motivate the rest of the guys.”

On what Roberts continues to work on, “It’s my velocity,” targeted Roberts. “I’d like to throw 90. Right now, I’m in the mid 80s. I want to be more consistent and have my slider with the same arm speed as my fast ball. Right now I throw between 85-86.”

Selecting a college

Methodist University Monarchs2In the process of selecting his future, Roberts visited his final five choices: Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana, Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina, Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Coast Carolina in Conway, South Carolina and Methodist University.

“It was a combination of things that allowed me to choose Methodist,” said Roberts. “They have a good science program, which will allow me to improve.

“My academics are very important. I aspire to be an anesthesiologist, which isn’t an easy major,” said Roberts. :My mom was a pharmacist, so I wanted to do something in the medical industry.”

On Monarch’s sales’ pitch, “It was perfect. They emphasized academics. They’re not gonna tolerate academic deficiencies,” explained Roberts. “They told it to me straight. If I’m the best pitcher, I’ll be playing. I like the competitive spirit.”

To reach his goals, Roberts understands that preparation is the mother of all inventions.

“I will be defined in college by my velocity,“ admits Roberts. “I’ve gotta get more velocity. I’ve been in the weight room every day. I’ve got a couple of friends who help spot me.”

On breaking away from the nest, “Look, I love my mom. But I’m kinda an independent guy, so that’s not much on an issue in going to Methodist. It’s eight hours away,“ said Roberts. “I want to experience a different climate, other than Florida. Adjusting to new surroundings is part of going to college.”

Looking ahead

Before reporting to freshman orientation on Aug. 16, Roberts will sprinkle in some action as a guest player for the Carrollwood Gators, guided by Danny Rodriguez.

He estimates to play as many as 20 games.

He’ll also enjoy basketball pickup games with his brother and father at home.

“It was so cool to play with my brother this year,” offered Will. “We’ve been playing together since I was eight. He’s a good contact hitter and was very dependable at second base or in the outfield.”

Before turning the page toward the next chapter of his life, Roberts addressed his legacy.

“Stats are important, but I’d like to be remembered as a good leader. I really tried to turn the program around,“ he said. “Hopefully, this was the start of building the program up to being a powerhouse.

“… I absolutely have no regrets in making the decision to attend HCA.”

In retrospect, that’s not bad for a P.O.

By the Numbers: HCA’s Will Roberts (2015-17)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

HITTING

 

YEAR

 

YR

 

GP

 

AB

 

R

 

H

 

2B

 

3B

 

HR

 

RBI

 

.AVG

2017

12

24

85

18

30

8

1

1

26

.353

PITCHING

 

YEAR

 

AP

 

GS

 

CG

 

IP

 

H

 

R

 

ER

 

BB

 

KO

 

SO

 

W

 

L

 

ERA

2015

1

0

0

1.0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

0.0

2016

4

1

0

4.2

6

9

8

6

2

0

0

0

12.0

2017

12

9

1

50.2

41

36

10

27

89

0

4

6

1.38

 

17

 

10

 

1

 

56.1

 

47

 

45

 

18

 

34

 

92

 

0

 

4

 

6

 

2.23

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