Will Fisher’s baseball career is far from over but he has already penned a story of perseverance.
The William Chrisman High School graduate just wrapped up his playing career at Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods.
His steady approach at the plate – hitting near .400 this spring – caught the attention of a number of NCAA Division II schools and he picked an opportunity to play at William Jewell College.
“Baseball has been a big part of my life and I wanted to continue it,” Fisher said. “I still see potential in my career and I still have things to work on. That is why I’m doing it. I get to play at Division II, plus I get my degree and I’m staying close to home, so it's a win-win.”
Just two years ago, Fisher wasn’t playing baseball and was just a student at MCC-Blue River. Coming out of Chrisman, he had garnered a few looks from colleges but no offers.
He was a four-year starter for the Bears, going from honorable mention all-conference as a freshman and sophomore to a second-team pick as a junior and first-team pick as a senior. He also ran cross country and wrestled for Chrisman, going to state his senior season.
He focused on school work but didn’t give up the dream of playing college baseball.
“I could’ve went to school at a four-year university but I was more worried about my major than athletics at the time,” Fisher said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I needed to go to community college. I thought about walking on to a (baseball) team if I had the chance to play. I did my training and never gave up.”
The summer after his freshman year at MCC, he played American Legion baseball with Blue Springs Post 499 Fike. He did well enough to catch the attention of Maple Woods coach Marty Kilgore, who extended a walk-on offer.
Fisher went from one of the more talented players at Chrisman to just “another guy” on a deep roster for the Wolves. He played in only one game in fall ball, going 2-for-3 with a triple against William Jewell in a scrimmage.
At one point in fall ball, the depth chart was released. Sitting on third string at third base was Fisher.
“I took it as a slap in the face – 100 percent,” Fisher said. “As soon as I was put down as third string, I was in the gym twice a day. I made sure no one worked harder than me. I would try to show I was the best. I paid money out of my own pocket to sit on the bench. I can sit there and pay for school or I can work my ass off and show them they need to put me in the game. I believed I was better than third string, and eventually they saw I had potential.”
Fisher moved into the lineup halfway through the season, playing in 14 games. He hit .294 with three doubles and 13 RBIs. He also pitched six innings and gave up five runs in his only start of the season.
He moved from third base to catcher late in the season after injuries depleted the depth chart, starting three out of four games against Mineral Area Junior College.
“Marty was talking to the other coach and he said, ‘We have a new catcher, he’s nothing special,’” Fisher said. “Three kids tried to run on me and I threw them all out.”
Kilgore, who claimed his 600th career victory in March, recalls the 2019 series as well.
“Will volunteered and did a pretty good job,” Kilgore, who also coached Fort Osage graduate and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, said with a laugh. “Afterwards, I learned just how little experience he had.”
This year Fisher shifted to the outfield and, despite playing in only 14 games, he flashed the potential of being a solid middle-of-the-order bat.
He batted a team-high .390 with 16 hits, four doubles, one triple, one home run, 11 RBIs, 10 runs scored and two stolen bases. MCC was 7-7 when the season ended abruptly in March because of the pandemic.
“This year was going to decide where I would go, based on baseball,” Fisher said. “The COVID situation cut it short.”
Lindenwood and Central Missouri expressed interest in Fisher, but William Jewell offered a chance to play a lot. Coach Mike Stockton views Fisher as a starter at a corner outfielder spot, but could see the right-hander throw some too for the Cardinals.
“We knew a little about him when he was in high school,” Stockton said. “We knew he sat out a year before going to Maple Woods. We have a great relationship over there with Coach Kilgore. We have had a lot of kids go from Maple Woods to William Jewell. We saw Will and we liked what we saw.”
Fisher will have three years to play at William Jewell after getting granted another year of eligibility due to the 2020 season being lost. Stockton calls what Fisher did – going from not playing for a year to earning a starting spot – something rare.
“I feel a little bit of accomplishment,” Fisher, who will major in psychology, said of getting a scholarship. “But this is not where I want to stop. I still feel like there is a lot more to go through and this is just a stepping stone.”
Fisher will be playing for the Milgram Mustangs for the second year in a row in the Ban Johnson League. Practice started this week and the team will play a doubleheader in the season opener on Monday at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.
The last time Fisher played in a game was on March 12.
“It’s been a minute since I played, but it’s just about going out there and having fun with friends,” Fisher said. “That is how baseball should be. I feel when I’m having fun during the game, I do a lot better.”