UNION — The USC Union Bantams baseball program continues to expand its recruitment radius adding two Irmo High School students to the fall roster.
Kalin McKinney and Stuart Thompson made their decision to play for the Bantams official when they signed letters of intent in the university’s press room Monday afternoon.
“Kalin has been committed to play for us since last summer,” said Paul Wilkes, head coach and athletic director at USC-Union. “He came down during the summer and watched one of our summer workouts and he committed on the spot. I told him to think about his decision because he has plenty of time but when school started back, Kalin gave me a call and was still firm with his commitment.”
McKinney heard about the baseball program through his travel ball coach Will Nobles, who thought that USC Union was the right choice.
“Kalin will be a great fit for an up and coming program that is quickly on the rise,” said Nobles. “It’s a great opportunity for him to continue his baseball career after high school.”
Nobles added that McKinney should have no trouble being an impact player right away for the Bantams.
“He’s a very driven player out of a talent-rich Irmo High School and he has also competed at the highest level of summer baseball so I think he’ll do well,” Nobles said.
McKinney is comfortable at several different positions on the field including third base and shortstop. He also spends time on the pitchers mound and has a deceiving submarine delivery.
He was named Outstanding Defensive Player last summer at the USC Dynamic WoodBat tournament and also has some pop in the bat, mostly a doubles hitter from the three or four hole.
“I’m kind of a utility player,” said McKinney. “I just love the game and I’ll play wherever they need me. I think, sleep, breathe baseball and I’m ready to put in work here to get better and to help the team.”
Thompson, also an infielder, said those were his goals for the season as well. Primarily a right-handed pitcher who possesses a dangerous curveball, Thompson can also fill the role of second baseman.
“One of my former coaches, Doug Spires, got me into pitching and gave me a chance starting in rec league,” said Thompson. “I’ve got a good glove and I’m looking forward to contributing to USC Union.”
Spires said that the Bantams will be getting a determined athlete who is capable of leading a baseball team when Thompson arrives this fall.
“The thing about Stuart is that he’s very driven,” Spires explained. “He has a lot of heart and he leaves it all on the field. I know that’s an old cliche, but with him, it’s the truth. Most kids today don’t have a lot of heart. Stuart does.”
Wilkes said that Thompson was recruited to the Bantams by McKinney, who’s been generating interest in the USC Union baseball program among several of his Irmo teammates.
“It’s always good to have players in your program like Kalin,” Wilkes noted. “He’s a talented player who’s passionate about baseball. He has a solid bat, a good glove and can give you some innings off the mound if need be. Stuart also has a good bat, but his main focus will be pitching. He has a very good breaking ball that always seems to keep hitters off balance. I think both young men will be assets and I look forward to them joining the team in fall.”