Senior outfielder Jake Williams has left the South Carolina baseball team and will not play in the 2012 season, sources told The State Wednesday night.
Williams, who provided some big moments in USC’s 2011 national championship season, has stepped away due to what are being termed “personal issues.” Sources added that he was not dismissed from the team but made the choice himself. He plans to stay in school and graduate in May.
A spokesman in the USC baseball office declined comment until Thursday’s already-planned 1:30 p.m. media event. Williams’ departure means that he will not be on the final 34-man roster, which must be submitted before Friday’s season opener against VMI at Carolina Stadium. That will open up a spot for another one of the players still trying out to make the team.
A decision has not been made if Williams will attempt to return to the team for the 2013 season. Since he already has used a redshirt season after transferring from Wofford, where he started for the Terriers in 2008 and 2009, he would have to apply for a special hardship from the NCAA to participate a year from now.
Just before the start of preseason practice in late January, Williams missed several days of workouts due to the same issues. But he had participated in the scrimmages and practices since that time.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams batted .268 with two home runs and 38 RBIs last season while playing left field, right field and designated hitter.
He is best remembered for the big home run that he hit in a 5-4 series-clinching win over Clemson at Greenville’s Fluor Field in March, as well as the throw to the plate he made from left field to nail a Florida runner trying to score the potential winning run in the first game of the CWS national championship series, a game USC won 2-1 in 11 innings.