Monday, August 11, 2014
Before he found his true calling, Sawyer Bridges was the guy who blocked the plate in the spring and ran the ball in the fall.
The son of a former Summerville High School athlete turned Green Wave coach, Bridges grew up surrounded by athletics.
The rising junior says he has played baseball since he was 4. He played Dixie Youth Baseball until he was 11 and then became active with travel ball organizations. As a seventh-grader he joined the Green Wave JV team and the next year he made the SHS varsity team.
“I’ve always had a pretty good arm but I did a lot of catching when I was younger,” Bridges said. “My eighth-grade year I did some pitching on the side but everyone thought of me as a catcher. Then one game Wando was beating us pretty bad so they put me in and I just threw the crap out of the ball. I can’t remember exactly how many strikeouts I had or anything but I did really good.”
That summer he pitched some for his Diamond Devils travel ball team. One of his pitches was clocked at 85-mph and afterwards his dad told him he didn’t need to catch anymore. His fastest clocked pitch this year was 93 mph.
This summer, Bridges played for the EvoShield Canes travel organization that draws players from across the country. He helped the Canes 17U team earn a national championship.
“That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “I mean there were 380 teams in the country who wanted that title so playing for it was fun.”
He also helped his team place second in a prestigious tournament in Arizona and third in a tournament in Florida.
His time on the hill for the Green Wave in the spring was limited due to an injury, but he finished the high school season with a 6-1 pitching record.
Bridges has verbally committed to the Clemson University baseball team, which made him an offer his freshman year.
“It’s mostly their coaches that won me over, but I also like their facilities,” he said. “Overall, I just love their program.”
He says he will probably major in a field such as sports marketing or sports management.
Bridges has also drawn a lot of interest and had a lot of success as a football player. He is entering his third season as the quarterback for the Green Wave varsity team.
“Being a quarterback for this school is always fun but I did feel some pressure my freshman year,” he said. “It wasn’t overwhelming or anything because I knew what to expect and the older guys helped me out. I already knew that older crowd and I think that helped especially since I was a bit undersized.”
However, Bridges didn’t start out as a QB.
His introduction to organized football came through the Sertoma Youth Football League and after only a year in the youngest age division he gave up football, temporarily.
“I was fast so they put me at halfback but I wanted to play quarterback so I didn’t play the next year,” he said.
Eventually he gave the sport another try and the second time around coaches let him play the QB position. He remained a quarterback and upon reaching middle school he joined the DuBose Middle School team and helped it to a championship. As an eighth-grader he played for the Green Wave B-team.
Looking back, he is glad he gave football another shot.
“I enjoy everything about the sport,” he said. “Football players have a unique mindset and I enjoy being around that. They want to hit and get down and nasty which is something you don’t really have with baseball.”
Of course, baseball and football players do share some traits. Perhaps Bridges brings a football mentality to the baseball diamond that helps him on the mound and a pitcher’s instincts to the pocket that helps him on the gridiron.
“When I pitch I feel like I’m in control of the game and I like that,” he said. “It’s what I like about being a quarterback too. I like the pressure of, if I do good, the team does good.”
He has lofty goals for this football season.
“Everyone on this team wants to win state,” he said. “We feel like we were so close last year and we have the talent this year. I’m putting a lot of focus on getting the ball out of my hands and throwing better deep balls. Johnston (McCurry) helped me out with a lot of my deep balls last year so now that he is gone it’s more important for me to be accurate on big throws.”
The QB has shaved a couple of seconds off his 40-yard dash time since last season and he is hoping that will pay off this fall.
When he isn’t traveling around the country for baseball tournaments, studying the playbook or at practice, Bridges likes to fish.
Favorite Athlete: Tom Brady
Favorite Sport to Watch: Football
Favorite Movie or Book: The Purge: Anarchy
Favorite Group or Musician: Kid Ink
Favorite TV Show: Sports Center
Favorite Class or Subject: None