Will Benson Makes Team USA Baseball, Wins World Cup


        Senior Will Benson competed for the USA 18-U National Team in the 2015 WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup in Nishinomiya, Japan from Aug. 28 to Sept. 6. The team eventually won the World Cup after beating Japan 2-1.

        We did it,” said Benson. “God is good. I can’t tell you how up and down [the tournament was]. A lot of guys got sick while we were there. It was tough, just managing guys who couldn’t play because they were sick. It was just phenomenal.”

        The team began their tournament in Chinese-Taipai, where they played exhibition games before the tournament.

        “We first went to Chinese-Taipei and we looked really sloppy,” said Benson. “We didn’t look like we were ready to win anything.”

        The squad then traveled to Japan, where they lost to Japan’s team in their first game. However, the team made a turn after the loss by going undefeated in the rest of the tournament.

“Our general manager got into us a little bit and lit us a little bit before we finally made it to Japan, and we made a 180 turn there,” said Benson. “We just became such a great ball club.”

        The team went on to obtain a record of 8-1, beating teams that were more talented and skilled than them.

        “The teams we played were all really disciplined,” said Benson, “and the teams that weren’t disciplined were really talented. Everyday, we faced somebody really good.”

        But the team’s hard work paid off when they realized that they had not only won for themselves but for their country.

        “This is just complete joy and the happiest feeling to realize that we just won the gold medal for the United States of America,” said Team USA manager Glenn Cecchini. “Just to think that we represent something so much bigger than all of us, all of the players who have put this jersey on before us, all of the kids who tried to make this team and all of the coaches who helped us get to this point is amazing.”

        For Benson, the win represents his religious faith as well as his faith for his country and school.

        “I just want to give God the glory,” said Benson. “It’s such a blessing to be doing what I am doing right now. To represent Westminster, represent [God], represent my country, it’s a blessing.”

        Outside of Team USA, Benson also is a star on Westminster’s varsity baseball team in the spring.

        “Will is one of the best players on the team, looking at where he is now,” said senior baseball player Shota Yasuda. “I think he is the perfect role model for a baseball player on how they should be because he is so good yet he is not cocky. He is very humble. If you ask him something about his skill he will always tell you less than what he actually is.”

        After being done with practicing with Team USA, Benson is focused on helping Westminster win a state baseball championship.

        “I’m looking forward to winning a state championship,” said Benson. “That’s my goal. I want to get out of here with a state championship around my belt. You know, winning all this other stuff is great but I’m here to represent Westminster as well. I have a state championship on my board.”

        Last season, Westminster’s team lost in the semi-finals of the state tournament against Jackson County, but the team is looking to rebound from the loss with a team that features a strong senior group and talented underclassman.

        “We will have eleven seniors on varsity, headlined by Will and Rankin Woley, four year varsity players,” said head coach Russell Wrenn. “Blake Huber is a three-year varsity player. So we’ve got a strong senior group. It’s going to be a really tough region. Blessed Trinity is the two-time defending state champs and they will be back in the region. So we can go toe-to-toe with them and we need to work that out.”

        Benson’s time on the Westminster team also helped develop his skill as well as attract college scouts.

        “He played some forces as a freshman and hit nine forces as a sophomore and by end of his junior year he’s playing on team USA’s eighteen-year old team,” said Wrenn, “so he’s really improved dramatically. He’s a great athlete. He has unbelievable power. He’s a six foot five inch left handed guy who makes the field look really tiny. His overall athleticism and his power is the thing that has [college coaches and pro scouts] salivating.”

        Colleges including Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, and Duke began giving offers to Benson after his sophomore year during his summer baseball season with his club team, the East Cobb Astros. Benson committed to play for Duke in June, a couple days before his birthday.

        “I chose Duke because of the multiple opportunities I saw there,” said Benson. “The academics are top of the line. I know that even if baseball doesn’t work out, I can rely on academics.”

        Benson is also a star on Westminster’s varsity basketball team and hopes to play for Duke’s powerhouse basketball team, which are the NCAA defending national champions.

        “I’m think about walking on at Duke, and that’s going to be absurdly tough,” said Benson, “but I’m up for any challenge coming my way. You know, God put it in my heart that I might make this team, so I might as well go for it.”

        Although Benson is committed to play baseball in college, he originally set out to play basketball when he was seven years old.

        “I didn’t want to come to [baseball] tryouts,” said Benson. “I was kind of dumbfounded when my coach told me we had summer baseball. During my first year of summer baseball, I was really missing basketball, but as time went on I fell in love with baseball. I remember my first World Series. The experience was just overwhelming. It was just unreal. It was such a blessing.”

        Despite the time and dedication Benson spends on baseball, he manages to stay in shape and be the number one player on Westminster’s varsity basketball team.

        “It’s like if I’m not doing this sport, I’m doing the other one,” said Benson. “It’s hard to work out for basketball because I’m so into baseball. This is probably by far my most intense summer of baseball and my best summer of baseball. Now, since I’m done with baseball for a while, I’m focused on playing basketball and winning the state championship in basketball.”

        Next year at Duke, Benson has the chance to showcase himself as one of the top prospects in the Major League Baseball draft.

        “I definitely think he has the ability to become one of the top professional baseball players,” said Yasuda. “This is what I heard, but he’s projected to go in the first round in the draft this year. So, he’s going to be a first round draft pick this year, which is a very big deal. I think that if he decides to continue his baseball career at Duke, he will rise to the top, and if he gets drafted, he will succeed as well.”

        However, rumors have been floating around that Benson might forgo playing at Duke to play minor league baseball.

        “Rumors are rumors,” said Benson. “I just want to continue to work my game and be the best player I can be. I’m going to get ready to dominate college, but if that rolls around, I’ll just have to deal with that when it gets here. But I’m really focused on bettering myself as a person and as a player.”

        Whichever path Benson decides to take, he has the skills and potential to be successful in baseball and outside of athletics when his career ends.

        “I think he will be able to play and succeed in whichever level of baseball he wants to play at and in life, as long as he continues to work hard,” said sophomore baseball player Jack Polhemus.