By Bill Tamburrino
Going into the season, Jackson Willeford was on everybody’s watch list. The senior shortstop has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Arizona and he has been watched closely by professional scouts at just about every game. Opposing teams have tried to pitch around him and he has seen limited strikes.
Some crack under such scrutiny. Not Jackson. He is hitting a torrid .480, with 20 runs scored, 15 RBIs, and five home runs. His on-base percentage is .574 and his slugging percentage is .900, and he leads the Bulldogs with seven stolen bases. He has helped turn 11 double plays from his position at shortstop.
Last week was just an average four games for Willeford. He went 8-for-14, scored seven runs, and drove in six runs.
Willeford saved his best performance for last. He went 3-for-4, scored three runs, and drove in four runs with two home runs against La Jolla Country Day.
He also played well in the field. For his play, Jackson Willeford is the Ramona Sentinel Athlete of the Week.
When asked how he deals with the pressure, Willeford had a simple answer. “I just go out and play my own game. I block out everything and use my own approach to the game. I don’t worry about what others think. I already have a scholarship to play baseball at Arizona. Whatever happens as far as professional baseball goes is out of my control. Everything works out for the best. If I am lucky enough to get drafted and to sign a professional contract, I am eligible for college tuition no matter what round I am drafted.
“It will be a difficult decision, but either way I will be playing baseball and that is what I love to do.”
Jackson would like to have a chance to play against last week’s Ramona Sentinel Athlete of the Week, Beau Sulser, in college.
“That would mean that we were playing in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.,” he said. “That would be great.”
Jackson’s two brothers, Guy and Smiley, played for the Bulldogs, and his sister Emma has been in attendance with mom and dad Guy and Debbie and grandfather and grandmother Jack and Barbara for over a decade.
Jackson has had plenty of good days at the plate for the Bulldogs, but his fondest memory as a Bulldog was a team accomplishment. “Winning the Lions Tournament my sophomore year was sweet.”