College World Series hero Whit Merrifield is back in town to work out with the current South Carolina baseball team and partake in the team's trip to the White House on Monday.
More than two months after delivering the extra-inning hit to give USC its first national championship in baseball, Merrifield returned to the Carolinas this past week and spent the weekend working out with Gamecocks.
He'll be on the trip Monday to Washington, D.C., with the all the championship team players, coaches and Athletic Director Eric Hyman. President Obama is honoring the Gamecocks along with numerous other college championship teams.
Merrifield left South Carolina after his junior season after being drafted in the ninth round this year by the Kansas City Royals. He spent his summer playing for the Class A Burlington Bees.
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Can you summarize the past few months of your life?
It's been pretty crazy. It's been one extreme to another going from this place to Burlington, Iowa. But it was fun and I don't regret my decision. I went out and had a good time, played another 40 games and made a lot of good friends.
What goes on in Burlington, Iowa?
Besides baseball, not a whole lot. There's a lot of corn. We woke up every day and went to the field, took batting practice, played a game, went home and went to sleep. Then we'd do it all over again.
How many times have you watched your game-winning World Series hit?
Honestly, I go on YouTube probably once a night and watch it. It doesn't get old. I hope it doesn't ever get old.
How'd you do in the minor leagues this summer?
I did pretty good. It was kind of funny. I started off 5-for-8 and I was like, "Man, I'm going to be the big leagues before the year is over." Then I went on a terrible slump, something like three for the next 40. But I ended up a little over .250 and I hit five home runs, so it ended up being a good summer for me.
What's next for you with baseball?
I leave Sept. 19 for Arizona for instructional league. I heard it's a lot of early mornings and a lot of drills and a game in the afternoon. I've been told I'm going there to play second base.
What's it like to work out with the Gamecocks though you're not officially still on the team?
I feel kind of awkward out here. There are so many new faces that I don't know. It feels like I'm kind of an outcast. It's good to see all the new guys, and it's good to be back and see coaches and work out with the team again.
Can you summarize your career at USC?
It was a blast. I had a tough decision coming out of high school, and I'm 100 percent I made the right one, coming to this place and playing three years. Just playing hard every day, hopefully I rubbed off on some of the guys.