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From Diamond Dawgs to Penn State, The Matt Wood Story

Matt Wood Diamond Dawgs

Formerly of Pittsburgh Diamond Dawgs Baseball, Penn State’s Matt Wood has had quite the season in the Big10. The catcher from Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania led the Big10 in batting average en route to Penn State’s first conference tournament appearance in 10 seasons.

Wood joined Diamond Dawgs when he was 13 years old and played with the team up and until his college days at Penn State. During that time, he was coached by co-owners Ryan Flanagan and Frank Magliano, both of which noticed something special about Wood when he was just a kid starting out.

“There was absolutely something special about the way he just hit the ball,” said Flanagan. “He was a very disciplined, smart kid and had incredible body control even at that age (13). He’s very athletic and can adjust to anything being thrown at him. One of the biggest things was he hit the ball up the middle, which he still does really well, but he struggled on the inside. He didn’t make many major changes on his swing, just focused on his timing and now hits the inside pitch a little better. Definitely knew there was something special.”

“He was always a really good player,” said Magliano. “As the years went on, he got better and better. He got bigger, he got stronger, he got more physical. I mean, he was a wrestler for a lot of years… The kid is a tireless worker.”

Wood’s tireless work ethic has culminated in a .395/.494/.681 slash line this season. He has 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 50 RBIs across 51 games. His discipline has been his big on-the-field trait, drawing 34 walks compared to only 22 strikeouts.

His biggest trait though is off-the-field. Wood was praised for the intangibles he brings by his former coaches in Magliano and Flanagan. In addition to being named to the second team All-Big Ten as a Sophomore last year, he was named a Big Ten distinguished scholar and an academic All-Big Ten.

“That’s his best attribute by far,” said Magliano. “We can talk about baseball all day long about him… but the best thing about the kid is being a tremendous person first. He’s as good as it gets on-the-field and off-the-field. Like I say all the time, as a father, if your son grows up to be like Matt Wood, you’re very fortunate. I think that’s by far what stands out about him, more than his baseball ability. He’s just a quality person all-the-way around.”

Courtesy of Matt Wood

“One of the biggest things about Matt (Wood) is how disciplined and how hard of a worker he is,” said Flanagan. “He does a lot of things on his own, behind the scenes. Whether it’s teamwork or working with a personal trainer to get bigger and stronger. He’s very intelligent in what he’s trying to do.”

According to Magliano, who handled Wood’s recruiting, Wood was receiving interest from bigger and more successful programs than Penn State. But it was always Penn State that Wood wanted to go to.

“He had quite a few opportunities to go to bigger name places out of high school, Clemson being one of them,” said Magliano. “He wanted to go to Penn State. That’s where he wanted to go and he’s very happy there. He’s been happy there since day one. He speaks very highly of the coaching staff, very very highly. Let’s be honest in today’s world of transferring after last year, he could’ve named his place. He could’ve went to any school in the country without hesitation. But he’s been Penn State loyal from day one. That’s the thing about him, he’s a loyal kid. He wanted to go to Penn State since the first day and he’s going to finish it as a Nittany Lion.”

“He had a few offers from other schools,” said Flanagan. “But he wanted to go to Penn State. That’s where he wanted to be and that’s where he ended up. He had some SEC offers. He didn’t want to be there, he wanted to be at Penn State and that’s what worked out for him.”

Wood and Penn State are set to play in the Big Ten tournament against Iowa on Wednesday. It’ll be Penn State’s first tournament appearance in nearly a decade, and it comes with their Diamond Dawg behind the plate.

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