The moves at the top of the University of South Carolina athletics department and baseball team haven’t changed Anders DeShields’ mind.
The St. James left-handed pitcher made a verbal commitment to the College of Charleston over USC back in May. It’s a decision he’s sticking with.
“I’m dead-set on going to College of Charleston,” DeShields, a rising senior, said Monday. “It’s a great school, a great campus. The coaches are great people, and it’s a great city to play ball in.”
DeShields, who was also receiving significant attention from Coastal Carolina, did admit that he was a bit in awe while touring the South Carolina facilities during a visit in the spring. However, it wasn’t enough to coax him away from the Cougars.
His intentions to play at College of Charleston also remained unchanged after former USC recruiting coordinator Chad Holbrook – whom DeShields had had the most contact with at USC – took over that program earlier this month. Holbrook, instrumental in the Gamecocks’ two national championships and three straight trips to the College World Series finals, moved into the role formerly held by Ray Tanner, who was promoted to athletic director when Eric Hyman departed for Texas A&M.
The 6-footer had a monster year for St. James last spring despite transferring to the school from Byrnes after the beginning of the semester. He was 5-1 with one save in seven appearances on the mound. He had a team-best 1.30 ERA while striking out 46 and holding opposing hitters to a .080 batting average. He threw a no-hitter against Socastee to clinch the Region VIII-AAA title on the last day of the regular season.
DeShields was nearly as impressive offensively. In 18 games, he batted .481 with 11 RBI.
It led to plenty of attention from college recruiters in a hurry.
“I was trying to play the cards the right way,” he said. “I didn’t know how well I was going to do or how well I was going to perform. I was just going to let my team do what they do.”
DeShields did say there’s a chance he won’t sign with College of Charleston until the spring, although technically he could pull the string in November during the early signing period. Like many other St. James players in the last few years, DeShields said he may opt to do it alongside any teammates who are potentially signing college scholarship offers.
“We’ll have some more commits by then,” he said. “That’s going to be one of the better days in my high school career. I want to spend it with more of my teammates.”
Fall sports begin this week
Friday is the first official day of football practice for South Carolina high schools, and the majority of sports around the Grand Strand will follow suit.
Teams are restricted to helmets and shorts for two days before moving to a two-day block of helmets and shoulder pads. On the fifth day of drills, teams can then commence full-contact practices. South Carolina High School League policy maintains teams alternate long practice days (five hours with at least one two-hour break built in) with short days (three hours maximum) until the 15th day of camp.
The first day teams can hold a scrimmage is Aug. 2.
Coaches are required to document practice activities.
The first night of games for Grand Strand squads is Aug. 17.
Prior to that, though, fans will have plenty of opportunities to see area teams do their thing. The biggest event of the preseason will take place Aug. 10 at Conway. There, the nine Horry County teams and Waccamaw will participate in the 23rd annual CNB Kickoff Classic.
The abbreviated games are typically kept fairly vanilla as to avoid injuries, but in many circumstances, the scrimmages can also be a good indication of which direction teams will go after personnel departures from the previous season.
Aynor and Socastee will be the first teams to play in the CNB at approximately 6 p.m. that night.
One week later, 12 of the area teams will hold their first official game during Week 0. Myrtle Beach’s first game will come Aug. 25 in the Derrick Law Firm Kickoff Classic against Irmo.
In the other fall sports – swimming, girls golf, volleyball, girls tennis, cross country and competitive cheer – practices are restricted to three hours for the first five days before alternating the five- and three-hour blocks through the 15th practice. The first swim meets of the season are allowed on Aug. 13, while girls golf rounds can begin Aug. 20. The other four can start Aug. 27.