Confident in the improved velocity on his pitches, Reese Olson decommitted from the Gardner-Webb University baseball program last month in hopes of bettering his career.
But even Olson hadn’t realized just how much his stock had improved.
The North Hall High senior committed to Georgia Tech on Oct. 31, choosing the Yellow Jackets over several other major schools including South Carolina and Alabama.
“It has just been a lot of fun to experience this,” Olson said. “I’m very thankful to be able to experience this. A lot of kids would be thankful to be in my position. I just thank God for giving me the talent and the opportunity to do this.”
Georgia Tech has plenty to be thankful for, too.
In Olson, the Yellow Jackets are getting a dominant pitcher and one of the best players in the state. He earned Class 3A Co-Player of the Year honors alongside teammate Taber Mongero, now on the roster at Gardner-Webb, after helping the Trojans win their first-ever state championship in 2017.
As a junior, Olson posted a 1.37 ERA over five playoff starts, all complete-game victories as North Hall ripped off a 10-game postseason winning streak.
“Reese was dominant during the regular season, but he was lights-out during the playoffs,” former Trojans coach Trent Mongero said in June. “He was everything you could ever ask for from a starting pitcher. In the playoffs, he really was more relaxed and focused.”
Olson’s season-long ERA was just a shade higher at 1.40, and he set the school’s single-season wins record with a 13-1 mark. A threat at the plate, as well, he hit .303 with a team-high 37 RBIs while splitting time at third base.
But Olson is at his best when he’s on the mound, and he’s only getting better.
The lanky right-hander said his fastball is now touching 93 mph, a nice uptick from the 90-91 mph heat he was throwing for North Hall last spring. It was enough to convince Olson to withdraw his yearlong pledge from Gardner-Webb, the only school that had offered him a scholarship.
“Me and my family felt it was best for me to open my recruitment back up and look at other options,” he said. “ … I made a big jump, and it had a lot to do with my velocity increase, which just gradually came from a lot of long toss.”
He put his improved velocity on display for the 5 Star National travel baseball team the day after decommitting from Gardner-Webb. Shortly following his win on the mound, Olson scored another victory when several schools called to make recruiting pitches.
More teams soon joined the fray, inundating him with calls after he pitched at Perfect Game’s WWBA World Championship on Oct. 19-23 in Jupiter, Florida.
About 15-20 schools — six or seven major programs mixed with some mid-majors, Olson said — were in the running for the senior’s services. Alabama, South Carolina, Kennesaw State and Mercer made his final cut, but the North Hall star settled on Georgia Tech.
“It felt like the right mix of baseball and academics, and it was close to home,” Olson said.
The quickness and magnitude of the re-recruitment process, Olson said, validated the risk he took by decommitting from the one school willing to give him a scholarship. And though he wasn’t quite sure what to expect once he entered the recruiting market again, that leap of faith turned out better than he could have imagined.
“I was a bit surprised. I wasn’t expecting to hear from schools quite like that,” Olson said. “But once I heard from a few schools on that level, I really felt I could go play at a place like Tech.”