Plenty of people look at the role of pitching in baseball and see pressure.
That’s not the case for William Blount’s Jacob Patterson.
“I see it as a lot of fun,” Patterson said with a smile. “I’m on the mound and I get to control the game. I trust myself to help the team win.”
It’s that kind of confidence and leadership that helped Patterson achieve his dream of playing baseball at the next level. On Thursday, the senior right-hander signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his career at Tennessee Wesleyan in Athens.
“It means everything to me,” Patterson said. “Since I was 7 years old, I wanted this and now, I finally have it.”
Patterson has been pitching since he was about 11, but his journey to the collegiate stage hasn’t been without adversity. He joined William Blount’s team his sophomore year after an injury of sorts sidelined him his freshman season.
Patterson said he began to notice something was off with his arm in middle school when he began feeling what he described as a “pinpoint pressure” on his elbow. In eighth grade, he got an MRI on his arm after finishing up a summer ball tournament, and the news he got from the doctor wasn’t great.
“He told me that I was born with my growth plate not where it needed to be and that the more I threw, the more it pulled,” Patterson said. “And I had been throwing for a while at that point.”
Patterson had to have a surgery that involved inserting a screw to reconnect the growth plate. It required six months of recovery, which meant no baseball for half a year.
Patterson said the doctor told him the likelihood of him returning to pitching was decent, but it could be compromised by the fact he had been pushing through the injury for so long.
“He said there was a chance something could go wrong with how long I threw with it — and that I might not be able to pitch again,” Patterson said. “But God was with me.”
Patterson eased back into pitching with a program that involved throwing the ball farther and farther gradually over time. He was still in the process of getting back to full strength when William Blount coach Justin Young offered him a spot on the squad in 2019.
“I couldn’t do anything, but he still took me on the team,” Patterson said. “I had so much adrenaline and wanted to throw because I hadn’t been able to step on a field or on the mound. So when I finally came back and could throw again, there was no other feeling like it.
“… I didn’t know (after the surgery) if I’d be as good as I was, but I came back better.”
Young’s decision to bet on Patterson proved to be a beneficial one for the program. Young said Patterson was already pitching at the varsity level by the middle of his sophomore season.
“That was a very good start for him, and we knew then that we’d be able to count on him the next couple years,” Young said. “He had a lot of potential, and he’s lived up to that and done great for us. We expect to win when he takes the mound.”
In his final season as a Governor, Patterson has been clutch for William Blount. He allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk over five innings to lead the Govs past West, 6-3, on March 24. That performance came five days after he tossed four no-hit innings against Pigeon Forge.
Patterson said he picked Tennessee Wesleyan because he loved the program as well as the smaller campus and its proximity to home.
“It was just a matter of him finding the right fit because him playing was never a question,” Young said. “He has worked hard and turned himself into a really good pitcher, good player and good asset to our program.”
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