POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Pearl River fans have long known about Wiley Cleland's abilities. National observers must have also taken notice because the Columbia native was named to the NJCAA All-America Third Team, the organization announced Tuesday.
Cleland is the eighth NJCAA All-American in program history, joining Greg Guidry (1st team; 1994), Jake Smith (2nd team; 2003), Rhyne Hughes (1st team; 2004), Craig Rodriguez (1st team; 2005), Kyle Lindsey (1stteam; 2008), Krisjon Wilkerson (2nd team; 2013) and Simon "Meaux" Landry (2nd team; 2018).
"Wiley's been a winner for us on the field and off the past two years. This award is the culmination of all the positives he's done in his time at Pearl River Community College," Pearl River coach Michael Avalon said. "He's a humble young man who came in, was an extremely hard worker, believed in our program since Day 1 and made a decision very early on that he wanted to lead our program and that's what he's done the last two years. I'm very happy for Wiley and his family. I'm incredibly proud of him."
Cleland was a key contributor in the Wildcats' first NJCAA Division II World Series berth since 2002. As a middle-of-the-order bat, Cleland hit 11 homers and 53 RBIs with a team-high 19 doubles. He also hit .327 with a .428 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage. The standout statistics came on the heels of moving positions. After playing the infield corners and right field as a freshman on last season's MACJC Championship team, an injury to a teammate forced Avalon to move Cleland to shortstop. The Louisiana-Monroe signee thrived in his new role, eventually being named to the All-Region XXIII squad and All-MACJC First Team.
"He's a Swiss Army Knife. In any situation he's going to get the job done. His versatility over the past two years is a main reason we've been as successful as we have been," Avalon said. "Anything that he was asked to do, he never questioned our decision. Regardless of what was asked of him, he always went about his job the same way."
Cleland finished his PRCC career with a .298 average, 14 homers, 27 doubles, four triples, 85 RBIs, 11 stolen bases, 103 hits and 88 runs scored.