MASON, Ohio -- Will MacLean has always been a University of Cincinnati sports fan.
So when the Bearcats offered the Mason pitcher a scholarship last summer, it didn’t take long for the 6-foot-3 right-hander to make a decision.
UC baseball coach Ty Neal liked what he saw last summer when he first noticed MacLean pitching for the Mason Grizzlies club team at Highland Hills Park in Fort Thomas.
Neal was actually at the park to watch 2017 signee Nathan Kroger. But MacLean had the next game and impressed.
Neal liked MacLean’s curve ball and was intrigued with his 6-foot-3 frame and durable makeup on the mound. Neal also later discovered that MacLean’s maturity and work in the classroom made him a natural fit for UC.
“This guy wanted to be a Bearcat, which is real important to us as well,” Neal told WCPO.com last week. “He is a really good student. I think he has an unbelievable work ethic which is sometimes hard to find when you are out recruiting these days.”
MacLean, one of the area’s top players in the 2018 class, announced his verbal commitment to UC on Aug. 27 and signed with the Bearcats in November.
This spring, he’s helped to lead the Comets to a 4-2 start (as of April 3). He won his first start of the season March 29 at Princeton.
MacLean, who has a 4.21 grade-point average, has a solid command of his changeup, curve ball and slider.
“When he is throwing his change and curve ball where he wants to, he’s a tough guy to square up,” Mason coach Curt Bly said.
MacLean feels he has better command of his curve this spring as opposed to a year ago.
“It’s been a big difference,” MacLean said. “Having that pitch that can move. Not only change speeds but move. The major key is keeping the batter off-balance. Whatever you can do to do that helps you big time.”
Mason senior catcher Michael Hall, a Montevallo signee, is in his second season catching MacLean.
“I just tell him to fill up the strike zone and let the hitters hit,” Hall said. “He has a great defense behind him. If he just spots it up and let the defense do its job he will be fine.”
MacLean and Hall are part of a highly touted Mason squad which was ranked No. 26 nationally by Baseball America this preseason.
The Comets also have senior pitcher Joey Bowlin (Northwood signee), the reigning Greater Miami Conference player of the year in junior pitcher/third baseman Nick Northcut (Vanderbilt commit) and junior pitcher Will Pfennig among several other standouts.
MacLean understands the challenge of balancing academics and athletics, but he’s loved being a part of the Mason program. He is considering studying biochemistry or something science-related in college.
Bly has no doubt MacLean, a student in his English class, will succeed.
“He’s a hard worker in everything he does,” Bly said.