John Gilreath, Wesley Sweatt and Cameron Reeves are doing their best to help the Northwestern baseball team to its first state title.
But the junior trio also is paying close attention to what is happening with their future team – South Carolina. The three players all committed to USC for the Class of 2018 and have watched the Gamecocks go through their share of struggles this season.
USC entered the final Southeastern Conference Series this weekend against Georgia in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years.
Rumors are swirling about coach Chad Holbrook’s future or possible changes to the coaching staff.
Still that hasn’t deterred the Northwestern players’ commitment to the program.
“I’m 100 percent Gamecocks,” said Sweatt, who leads Northwestern with five saves.
“I understand they aren’t having the year they want to have. I feel like things are pointed in right direction. They can still do good in the SEC tournament and get a bid to the NCAA tournament.”
All three players have been friends for a long time and grew up big Gamecocks fans. They said their love of the program is deeper than just who is coaching the team. Gilreath and Reeves were in the stands at T.D. Ameritrade Park when Scott Wingo hit a walk-off homer to beat Texas A&M in the 2011 College World Series.
“I committed to a school,” Gilreath said. “The coaching staff was a huge part of it. They are great guys and know what they are talking about. Columbia is great, and the school is great. It is great place to be as far as the university playing baseball.
“I know the season isn’t going how they want it to go, but it is still a fantastic program. The team is battling their hearts out.”
Gilreath was the first of the three to commit to USC when he pledged before his sophomore season.
The left-hander is 11-0 this season with a no-hitter and will get the start in Saturday’s deciding game in the Class 5A Baseball Championship against River Bluff.
Sweatt has been used primarily out of the bullpen this year. He has three of his five saves in the playoffs and hit 92 mph on the radar gun against Westside with members of the USC coaching staff in attendance.
Reeves also pitches, but has been the team’s starting second baseman. He turned a big double play in Tuesday’s 10-4 win against River Bluff and has reached base four times in the two games of the championship series so far.
“To go to Columbia and be able to play with these three guys is going to be pretty amazing,” Gilreath said. “I’m excited to see what happens down there.”