Standout senior pitcher and South Carolina signee Michael Bacica has been on the baseball team at Windermere Prep since he was in eighth grade.
Coming to Windermere Prep as an eighth-grader from the greater San Diego area, Michael Bacica was thrown immediately into the fire of Florida prep baseball.
Former Lakers coach Scott Horvath had Bacica on the team as an eighth-grader, and in his first three seasons on varsity the talented pitcher got the chance to play with a handful of high-level prospects and current Division I players that include Chase Haney (FSU), Austin Bergner (North Carolina) and Rylan Thomas (UCF).
Now a senior and in his fifth season within the program, things have come full circle for Bacica. He is the senior prospect signed to a high-level college program in the form of South Carolina University.
Looking back, the 6-foot-5 pitcher thinks fondly of the time he spent soaking up knowledge from guys he will join in the college ranks next spring.
“I definitely had to earn their respect, for sure, being a young kid on varsity,” Bacica said. “It definitely pushed me to be in the weight room every day and to go the extra mile after practices and after games.”
Of course, as exciting as the future is, Bacica is locked into the present — and his Lakers are 6-2 to start the season. Recently, Bacica struck out seven hitters in five innings of work while allowing no hits in a 4-0 win over Orangewood Christian Feb. 27. Most recently, in a 7-4 win against Trinity Prep March 13, Bacica struck out 10 batters in four-and-one-third innings of work.
For second-year coach Keith Walsh, having an arm like Bacica’s at his disposal was a nice perk of coming over to Windermere Prep from Edgewater.
“He’s got great pitches,” Walsh said. “He’s got secondary pitches that are plus-pitches. When he’s calm and he’s in control, he’s difficult for anybody.”
Bacica is a leader by example during practice and contributes to the team even on days when he’s not pitching — Bacica is a deceptively strong hitter, with four RBIs already this season.
“He’s got a lot of pop for a hitter,” Walsh said.
Thanks to ever-increasing availability of college baseball broadcasts, Bacica said he still keeps up with his former Lakers teammates who are tearing up the ranks in college.
“I watch them on the ESPN app all the time,” Bacica said. “I just can’t wait to get up there (in college) on my own.”
Originally committed to UNC, Bacica de-committed over the summer and was happy to find a new destination with the Gamecocks.
“South Carolina just felt like home,” Bacica said. “I’m very excited. I know it’s definitely going to be a challenge being in the SEC. … I know I’ve got to be ready — I’ve got to keep pushing myself.”
“He’s got great pitches. He’s got secondary pitches that are plus-pitches. When he’s calm and he’s in control, he’s difficult for anybody.”
— Keith Walsh, coach
He intends to keep pushing himself and also have a senior season with Windermere Prep to remember. Bacica is excited about this year’s group and the potential of several of his teammates.
“I definitely think we have a good shot this year,” Bacica said.
As for Walsh, the season is young, but he, too, is seeing encouraging things from the Lakers.
Players are buying into to his way of doing things, and the veteran coach is looking forward to a challenging March schedule.
“I think you find out who your team is a little bit every day,” Walsh said. “Once we start hitting the challenges as we go down the road — our district is incredibly difficult — we’ll find out more mentally about our guys.”