Austin Gambrell grew up in Clemson’s backyard, but he’s always been a devout South Carolina fan.
So, the Belton-Honea Path senior baseball standout was quick to jump on an offer from the Gamecocks in the summer following his sophomore season. He made his commitment official last November, signing a National Letter of Intent to play for the national champions.
“I’ve been a USC fan my whole life,” said Gambrell, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound third baseman. “I had always dreamed of going there. It gave me even more reason to want to go there when they offered.”
The Gamecocks were close to landing a two-fer from BHP. The program’s junior first baseman, Andrew Cox, committed to USC after his freshman campaign but changed course last summer and decided he’ll play collegiately at Clemson.
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But Gambrell never wavered from his commitment. The all-state performer is rated the second-best third baseman and 15th overall prospect in South Carolina by Diamond Prospects.
He will have to overcome some adversity before arriving in Columbia, however. He dislocated his elbow in a game earlier this month and will likely miss a month or more, a psychological blow to him and his team.
“This is a team game,” BHP coach Steve Williams told the Anderson Independent Mail. “Austin is a great player. We’re going to miss him for a while. I don’t even want to speculate on how long. Hopefully, we’ll get him back in a couple of weeks.”
Gambrell’s good health should return by the time he steps on campus.
He’s a versatile player with the ability to play both third, his natural position, and first base. He’s also a starting pitcher who has touched 90 miles per hour for BHP. He doesn’t mind pitching, but he would prefer to be a position player.
He hit .486 last season at the plate, where he has shown some power but prefers to be a line-drive hitter.
“I feel comfortable at the plate,” Gambrell said. “I hit it pretty good. I’m a little bit of both. I can swing the big stick sometimes and I’m able to stick it in the gaps, too. Each year I feel like I get better. I’ve got power, and I know I’ve got room to grow.”
He’s also a capable player in the field.
“I’m a good defensive player,” he said. “I can keep the ball in front, and I’ve got a decent arm. I think I can make the plays when the ball is hit to me.”