Merrifield & Bangs Get Set For Cape Cod Baseball League Playoffs With Chatham A's
Aug. 6, 2009
Columbia, S.C. - A pair of South Carolina Gamecocks are getting ready to compete in the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs. Whit Merrifield and Parker Bangs will be on the diamond on Friday, Aug. 7 and will try to help lead the Chatham A's to a CCBL championship. The A's are a wild card entry and will face off with Orleans in a one-game playoff. With a victory, the A's would go on to a three-game series against Yarmouth-Dennis.
Merrifield, a rising junior, has had a stellar second half of the summer with Chatham with his batting average up to .266 (38-for-143) after a tough first couple of weeks at the plate. The Gamecock center fielder has a team-high 23 runs scored for the A's and also has tallied seven doubles, a triple, one home run and 12 RBI. He leads the team with 16 stolen bases.
Merrifield took a few minutes to talk with GamecocksOnline.com about his experience this summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League
Q: You had a slow start at the plate but have been hitting the ball as of late. Can you talk a little bit about the experience so far and adjusting to the wood bat and summer baseball?
A: "It's been kind of a roller coaster. I started really slow, first 50 at-bats I was around .100. I've been swinging well lately and I just kind of found my groove. It's a little different with the wood than with the metal bat. I've also adjusted to the pitchers up here. The first couple weeks I also was a little unlucky and was hitting some at people. I finally started to get a few hits and found a few holes and it's been better."
Q: What have you worked on to become a better player and to prepare yourself for your next season at South Carolina?
A: "I've worked on some stuff as a leadoff hitter. I've been working on my two-strike approach and I'm tracking balls better and walking more. I think I have cut down on my strikeouts as well. I really feel like I have made strides in my game and looking forward to taking it back to South Carolina."
Q: This is your second year on the Cape but your first season with Chatham. Can you talk about the experience and the opportunity to play at Chatham?
A: "It's been awesome. My dad was up here in 1982 and played for Chatham and I wanted to come experience it myself. The town is awesome and they treat us real well. Everywhere we go, we get recognized. It has been real nice. People are excited, I think we had close to 3,000 at our finale. I'm really looking forward to the playoffs. It has been a lot of fun."
Q: Have you and Parker (Bangs) had a chance to keep in touch with your Gamecock teammates this summer? Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Jay Brown are up on the Cape as well with Hyannis, so do you get to see them much? Do you get to keep in touch with the rest of your teammates as well?
A: "I try to send Jackie and Jay a text every couple days. Jackie, like me, started slow but he has been on a tear. I feel bad for Jay because he is throwing well and he isn't getting a lot of run support. He did throw against us, and he did beat us. They're doing well. It's fun to get a chance to see them in the summer and compete against them."
Q: With two seasons under your belt, you will return to campus as an upperclassman. What do you hope to bring back to Columbia as you and the team prepare for the 2010 season?
A: "I hope to come back and be a leader since I've been at South Carolina now for a couple of years. I kind of felt that a bit last year as one of the few starters returning. I've been in contact with some of the new guys and they are really excited to be a part of Gamecock baseball. There is a sense of responsibility that goes with that.
That last game (at East Carolina) still keeps me up and I'm still sick from it. I'm anxious to get back to that position again. That was tough to swallow knowing we were so close (to the NCAA Super Regionals) but it just didn't work out. There is nothing like South Carolina. It's a place you want to be a part of. I'm really excited to return to Columbia and get back to work."
Q: Coach Tanner said after the season that you told him you were willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. You mentioned you were working on your approach at the plate, what else have you worked on? What else do you hope to bring back to Gamecock Baseball for next year?
A: "Up here I've played some center field and some in right field so I feel like my arm has gotten stronger. What I pride myself on is being versatile and playing anywhere on the diamond, wherever I end up next year that is fine with me to help us get to the next step."
Q: Final thoughts, comments, what would you like to say to Gamecock fans?
A: "We're excited about next year. We like our team and we are going to be back in the hunt for an SEC title. It's about time to get back to where we belong. It's going to be a great year and I'm really excited about it."
Last season, Merrifield hit .340 (91-for-268) for the Gamecocks with 16 doubles, three triples as well as 11 HR and 46 RBI. He started in all 63 games.
MERRIFIELD'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
2009 - 4-for-6 with two runs scored and a RBI in 10-9 loss to East Carolina at NCAA Regional (6/1) ... 2-for-4 in 4-1 loss to LSU at SEC Tournament (5/22) ... 2-for-4 in 5-4 loss to Vanderbilt at SEC Tournament (5/21) ... Named to 2009 SEC All-Defensive Team ... 2-for-4 with a run scored in 9-2 win over USC Upstate (5/12) ... 2-for-5 with inside the park home run, double, three runs scored and three RBI in 15-6 win over Tennessee (5/10) ... Tied career-high in hits with 5-for-6 game at Tennessee, homered, three runs scored and four RBI in 15-12 victory over Tennessee (5/9) ... 2-for-5 with two runs scored in 11-3 win over Vanderbilt (5/3) ... 2-for-3 with a run scored in 8-3 loss to Florida (4/25) ... First career grand slam and career-high five RBI in 14-6 win at USC Upstate (4/21) ... 1-for-2 with two runs scored and a sacrifice fly RBI in 10-4 win over Auburn (4/19) ... 2-for-5 with two runs scored in 5-3 loss to the Ciadel (4/15) ... 3-for-6 with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored in 20-6 win over College of Charleston (4/14) ... 5-for-6 with three runs scored, a double, triple and one RBI in 12-10 win over Ole Miss (4/10) ... 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a two-run homer in 6-4 loss to Arkansas (4/3) ... 3-for-4 with a double, one run scored and two RBI in 10-0 win vs. Furman (4/1) ... Key RBI double in 4-2 win over Kentucky (3/29) ... Career-high four hits with two runs scored and two doubles in 20-19 win over Kentucky (3/28) ... 2-for-5 with two runs scored in 14-2 win at College of Charleston (3/24) ... Two-run homer in 7-3 win over LSU (3/20) ... Tied career-high in hits with 3-for-4 game at Furman (3/18), scored three runs and also had two RBI ... 2-for-5 with a run scored in 13-6 loss at Mississippi State (3/14) ... 2-for-5 with two runs scored in 6-5 win over Presbyterian (3/9) ... 7-for-14 (.500) series vs. Long Beach State, five runs scored, a triple and two home runs ... Tied career-high in hits with 3-for-4 performance in 10-7 loss to Long Beach State (3/8) ... Homered and went 2-for-5 in 7-5 win over Long Beach State (3/7) ... Game-winning two-run homer in 2-0 win over Georgia State (3/3) ... 1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored in the 3-1 win at Clemson (2/28) ... Hit. .375 (3-for-8) in Duquesne series with on-base percentage of .538 ... 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks in 13-0 win over Dukes (2/21).
2008 - Played in 62 of 63 games for the Gamecocks with 62 starts, all in center field ... Finished with .326 batting average (77-for-236), nine doubles, a triple, three HR and 26 RBI ... Also scored 58 runs and stole a team-high 11 bases in 11 attempts ... Named to 2008 SEC All-Freshman team ... Also named to 2008 NCAA Regional All-Tournament team ... Led the team with 26 multi-hit games as well ... 3-for-3 at the plate with a RBI in 5-4 loss to NC State in NCAA Regional (5/31) ... Reached base four times in 15-8 win vs. Charlotte at NCAA Regional, finished with a hit, two walks, a hit by pitch, two runs scored and two RBI ... 3-for-4 with a double and three runs scored in 10-2 win over The Citadel (5/13) ... Tallied three hits and two runs scored in 10-5 win at Wofford (5/7) ... 2-for-5 with a run scored in 9-6 win vs. Florida (5/4) ... 3-for-4 with three runs scored in 6-5 win vs. Florida (5/3) ... 2-for-4 with a run scored in 4-1 win vs. Ole Miss (4/20), also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in 6-2 win over Rebels (4/18) ... Tallied three hits, scored two run and had a RBI in 6-0 win at Clemson (4/16) ... 2-for-5 with a RBI and run scored in 13-7 win vs. Kentucky (3/29) ... 2-for-3 with two run scored in 16-7 win at Vanderbilt (3/15) ... Tripled, scored and finished with two hits in 10-1 win vs. Clemson (3/1) ... Collected career-high three RBI in 12-0 win over UNC Asheville (2/27) ... Hit a two-run homer in 7-6 win over East Carolina (2/24), also homered previous day vs. Pirates (2/23) ... Played in the summer for Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League with Gamecock teammate DeAngelo Mack ... 2008 SEC Freshmen Academic Honor Roll member.