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.
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.”