Dom Thompson-Williams is trying to enjoy every moment he has in a South Carolina uniform, whether he is chatting with fans, signing autographs or chasing down a fly ball in the outfield.
The Iowa native made the decision to have as much fun as possible on the baseball diamond after Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a visit to Founders Park to take batting practice with USC prior to the season.
“He’s got I don’t know how much money and he’s doing huge things, and he comes here, and you would never know he was a big leaguer,” Thompson-Williams said. “You would never know that he started in the outfield for the Red Sox. That kind of touched me deeply. He’s a big role model and I idolize him a lot.”
Thompson-Williams began looking up to Bradley Jr. when he was a teenager growing up in Iowa watching Carolina win back-to-back College World Series titles.
The junior said he attended the College World Series at least eight times and dreamed of one day playing for the Gamecocks, partly because of what he saw from Bradley Jr.
“I remember when I was in high school I asked my mom, ‘Do you think I could play with those guys? Do you think I could compete with those guys?’ My mom said you can do anything you want, and now I’m here,” Thompson-Williams said.
The two spoke for the first time this winter, and Thompson-Williams was impressed.
“He comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, I want to introduce you to my wife and my family,’ and showed me everything and talked to me,” Thompson-Williams said.
Thompson-Williams is having a great first year for USC, entering the NCAA tournament second on the team in hitting at .329, and he leads the Gamecocks in runs (50), doubles (15), triples (3) and stolen bases (17).
He is tied for second on the team in home runs with seven and is third in RBIs with 38.
Thompson-Williams says he has a lot of work to do before he can be compared withBradley Jr. as a player.
“He’s made it. I haven’t made it yet. I’m still stepping stones trying to get there,” he said. “But I would love to be modeled after him. Look at his stats, look at his history. He’s one of the greatest that’s ever been here. I think everyone reaches for that.”
Columbia Regional schedule
Game 1: No. 2 UNC Wilmington vs. No. 3 Duke, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 2: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Rhode Island, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, Noon (ESPN3)
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, Noon (ESPN3)
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 7: If necessary, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)