Wilton Pittman is moving on up

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Wilton Pittman was pretty sure he had played his last game earlier this year when the order came from Governor DeSantis that schools were closing until March 30, 2020 due to the coronavirus. Hope came over the weekend that FHSAA was looking into extending the season for high school spring sports once school resumed on March 30. That hope faded a little whenever the school closure was extended to May 01. So, in reality, though Pittman is optimistic of a return to the high school diamond, he knows that the game on March 12 against county rival Sneads may have been his last high school game.
Despite all these unexpected circumstances, Pittman feels very blessed that he now has the good fortune to continue his baseball playing days at the college level. He signed with Coastal Alabama North in Monroeville, Alabama, under head coach, Daniel Head, and assistant coach, Kevin Johnson. Pittman expects to report there sometime around mid-August.
As a young player, Pittman enjoyed a bit more encouragement than some players had because his uncle, who was also a southpaw, excelled in baseball. Brad Wright, Ginger’s brother, dominated the mound in high school and had the opportunity to extend his baseball career into college at Northwest Florida State College and the MLB draft for the Atlanta Braves.
Pittman’s love of baseball began when he was only four as he started playing on the tee ball field; he had just missed the age cutoff, but by demonstrating the maturity necessary for tee ball, he was allowed to participate. From that day forward, he didn’t disappoint, playing his way through rec ball. Following, he anchored the team at Marianna Middle and Marianna High School. During his junior and senior year, he also played for Next Level Baseball.
Pittman is one of many seniors across the United States who saw their season come to an abrupt halt. When asked his thoughts on this, he said, “It’s unfortunate, there’s no doubt about it. You know it’s different than a season-ending injury, this is world-wide.” Pittman knows all too well about a season-ending injury. On March 7, 2019, while pitching for Marianna, he experienced a shoulder injury. On the fourth pitch of the game, he said he knew something had happened, “I had no pain prior to the game and that was actually the best bullpen I had thrown that year. I believe it was my third or fourth start of the season. I had told Coach Waller, our pitching coach, let’s pound them on fastballs tonight, make them swing and miss, and he agreed. So, that was the game plan and we laid off the breaking stuff. On the fourth pitch of the game, I experienced my injury. I can tell you everything about that pitch.” Pittman seems to have made a full recovery after undergoing surgery, performed by Dr. Jordan, and rehabbing at EXOS Sports Performance, both at Andrew’s Institute, in Pensacola last year. He says he can pitch again, but chooses to focus on the field, “I like to play first base and outfield because I have the opportunity to hit in the lineup. I felt like when I pitched, it took away from my ability to hit. I’ve always felt a special connection to hitting.”
About whether his high school baseball season has truly ended is still up in the air, “Our hopes are still up. But, realistically, I don’t know, the way it’s looking, the prospect does not look too good. I have to give credit to FHSAA. They are trying. I know this whole deal is nothing we can control right now and it’s probably not going to do anything but get worse before it gets better, but they are trying.”
Mature beyond his years, Wilton gives credit about why he is where he is today, “I want to thank God, I put Him first because without Him, none of this would have been possible. There are so many “whys” and “what ifs” of all that has happened, but with His strength and power, I’ve gotten to where I am today.” Being a member of Lovedale Baptist Church has supported his position of faith. He goes on to say, “I’d like to thank my family for all their support, and Coach Bobby Hughes and the coaching staff at MHS for the encouragement they showed me. If I needed to go to physical therapy or had an appointment, they were very cooperative with me. I’d also like to thank Mr. Ryan Robinson and his supporting coaches from Next Level for allowing me to play in the fall, even as a DH. I’d like to thank my former coaches and the Marianna community. I appreciate how our area rallies behind our baseball team. Everybody was so caring and positive throughout this process. Community and county support of the local athletic programs inspire us players to do our best and allow us to grow in a chosen sport. Northwest Florida is a great place to grow up playing a sport.”
With an excellent academic record, Pittman should maneuver the college curriculum for the business degree he plans to pursue. At MHS, he is an honor student, and serves as reporter for the National Honor Society and is the 2020 class reporter for the Student Government Association. He is a member of the Anchor club, Future Farmers of America, and the Beta club. He also played on the golf team his sophomore and junior years. Perhaps his most active participation other than sports has been his involvement with showing steers. Pittman discusses these activities and gives credit for the knowledge he’s gained, “While preparing steers for shows, you learn about hard work and competitiveness. Before the show, you have to do show prep which is washing, walking and training your steer. Then, for the actual steer show, we learn everything we can about our projects. From feed rations, to working the calves, and even how to clip their hair, we knew about all aspects of the steer and what was best for them. We would load up our equipment, our steers, and take them to show. Even when the competing ends, we dealt with our emotions and did a self-assessment of our performance. Hopefully, we earned the win as a result of hard work, preparation and knowledge.” During his showing, which began as a child in elementary school with 4-H, Pittman has brought home numerous Grand Champion and showmanship recognitions.
Wilton is the son of Jeffery and Ginger Pittman, owners of JG Farms, and has two siblings, Mary Katherine Pittman who is an elementary school teacher for the Teach For America Program in Charleston, South Carolina and Jeffery Pittman, Jr, who assists on the family farm. He is the grandson of Kermit and Brenda Wright formerly of Marianna and now living in DeFuniak Springs and the late Milton and Jessie Jo Pittman of the Lovedale community.
Congratulations to Wilton Pittman and his family on his signing to play at the next level from the publisher and staff of the Jackson County TIMES.

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