The Whiteville High baseball team is about to travel to a state championship series for the second time in three seasons. In its last appearance, WHS won the 2012 N.C. 2A State Championship, and the subject of this College Athlete Corner played a key role in that victory.
Clarkton native Nathan Hood just finished his freshman season with the NC State Wolfpack baseball team. But before he became a part of that Wolfpack, he was an emerging star for the Whiteville Wolfpack, showcasing his ability at the plate, in the field, and on the mound.
Hood led WHS to victory over Randleman High School in that 2012 championship series as a junior. As a senior, he built upon his own personal success from the season before and was named first-team all-state.
Hood batted .413 that season with five home runs, 12 doubles, and five triples. However, NC State was interesting in the left-hander long before that point. Hood signed with the Wolfpack in October 2011 as a junior at WHS, securing his future in the ranks of Division 1 NCAA baseball.
However, Division 1 NCAA baseball is certainly not a walk in the park, and Hood said the level of competition he faced in the ACC was one of his biggest transitions from high school to college.
“The pitching was a lot better,” he said. “Everybody was a lot better.”
Hood also faced the academic transition from high school to college, which challenged him to make time for studies and for baseball. However, with the help of academic advisors, he was able to make time for class in the morning, baseball in the afternoon, and study halls in the evening.
NC State entered the 2014 season with high expectations; many ranked the Wolfpack in the preseason top 10 and believed they had a good chance to go to Omaha for the College World Series.
However, things did not go as planned for the Pack, as they finished 32-23 on the season and missed out on the ACC Tournament after losing to UNC-Chapel Hill 4-3 in the play-in game. The Wolfpack also missed out on the NCAA Tournament, making this season a disappointment for many NC State faithful.
Despite the team’s underwhelming season, Hood managed to earn a fair amount of playing time, appearing in 29 games on the season and as a starter eight times.
One of his favorite moments of the season came early in ACC play in the first game of a doubleheader against Notre Dame. Hood went 2-4 and drove in a run in the fifth inning to tie the game at 1. NC State would go on to win 5-3, with Hood as the only player on the team to have multiple hits in the game.
However, off the field, Hood also developed friendships with some of the team’s leaders, including catcher Brett Austin, shortstop Trea Turner, and pitcher Carlos Rodon.
“They brought us in as freshmen and kind of showed us the way and what was expected of us,” Hood said. “We had a lot of fun.”
Hood’s freshman year may not seem ideal; NC State did not perform up to expectations and Hood was battling to adjust to ACC play as a hitter. However, he has taken a positive outlook on the season and regrets nothing.
“I always try to work as hard as I can and do everything I can to succeed,” Hood said. “If it doesn’t work out or something doesn’t go the way I want it, I want to be able to look back and not say ‘I should have worked harder.’”
Hood will continue to work hard throughout the offseason and focus on getting stronger and faster in order to help himself at the plate and as an outfielder.
“I feel like I learned a lot hitting-wise,” he said. “I just want to build on that. I know what I have to do now to play at a high level.”
For now, Hood will be happy to watch his younger brother Nick compete with his WHS teammates for a state championship on Friday and Saturday. But for Nathan Hood, the hard work will continue, and it will continue to pay off.