Former Pioneer closing his career at Grambling

There is one year left in the collegiate baseball career of Danial Wilson.

Wilson, a Leavenworth High alum, has celebrated his love of the sport by participating as a member of the NCAA D1 Grambling State Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) the past three seasons.

A member of the LVHS class of 2014, Wilson finished the recent campaign having thrown 17.2 innings while not recording a decision for the Tigers.

College life and sports has definitely been interesting for Wilson.

“My early college days were so much fun,” Wilson said. “Getting to play baseball all day pretty much for the first time was exciting and I enjoyed the time. Some of the highs included coming into games pitching and then winning on a walk-off. The lows were my freshman year we didn't make the postseason which was rough since as a team we really expected it to happen.”

The two-time All-Sunflower League pick and one-time Class 5A All-State selection took his resume – and perfect game his senior year – to Grambling and learned a lot about the next level pretty quickly.

“College sports has been everything I expected and more,” Wilson said. “It brings out the best in you. You're competing everyday with your best friends and it brings out the best in you. 

“The rudest awakening wasn't actually in sports but it came my freshman year my first semester when I missed a class for game and didn't bother to mention to my professor that I was missing for a game. When I showed up next day, she pretty much said that (stinks); it's your responsibility to let me know before not after. I found it easier to manage my time than I thought would be with practice, lifting, games, and study hall.” 

The SWAC is a competitive league in its own right, but the non-league schedule can be brutal for the D1 minnows as they take on teams like Oklahoma, Louisiana State, Dallas Baptist and Louisiana Tech.

“The non-conference schedule and competition is the best of the best,” Wilson said. “Playing in college is no joke. Dedication and passion are tested every single day. Also, one thing that's overlooked in high school by the athletes is timeliness. In college, everything happens at a certain time, with or without you. Whereas in high school, there might be some leeway.

“Commitment is also tested quite often, getting up at 5 a.m. every day and not getting home until 9 p.m. can be tough several weeks and months in. You have to be committed because you've got a lot riding on you.”

A lot of his ability to hang in there was born from his time as a Pioneer and the memories that carried over to Grambling State.

“When looking back at my high school career, I remember the practices, I also remember throwing a perfect game, also beating Lansing my senior year in the playoffs,” Wilson said. “I also remember having some of the best baseball coaches around in Joe Allison, Justin Bode and Al Singleterry.”