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Faulkenberry plays his way onto USC-Lancaster baseball squad

Posted: April 28, 2011 3:33 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2011 5:00 a.m.

While some players sign letters-of-intent to play sports at the college of their choice, when Brandon Faulkenberry decided to attend USC-Lancaster and play baseball at the school, he was guaranteed nothing.

In fact, the 2010 North Central graduate was so leery as to how things would work out for him in being asked to try out for Steve Williams’ Lancers’ baseball program that Faulkenberry asked not to have a story written about him and his decision to attend the school.

"I just have a tryout. That’s it," Faulkenberry said of his standing with the team before the start of the season.

That, however, was last summer. Since then, the former three-sport (baseball, football and basketball) high school standout earned a spot on the Lancers’ team and is making a solid contribution.

Listed as a catcher/second baseman, Faulkenberry had 37 at-bats through games of April 13 and had a triple and five runs batted in for the Lancers.

One person who never doubted that Faulkenberry, who also played for the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion team last summer, would find a spot on the Lancers’ roster was NC head coach Robbie Cash. Now in his second season at the Knights’ helm, Cash said it did not take him long to find out which player was his team’s leader when he first came to the program.

"He was my coach on the field," Cash said. "I let him call pitches on his own and he did a good job with that. I trusted him and think he will do a good job at USC-Lancaster."

So impressed was Cash with Faulkenberry that this season, Faulkenberry helps the Knights as a volunteer assistant coach and when his schedule permits, he is the team’s third base coach. Cash said he trusts Faulkenberry’s judgment both in working with the players as well as making the correct calls with base runners. Like his head coach, Faulkenberry is aggressive in deciding when to send and when to hold up base runners.

Cash said Faulkenberry has a strong knowledge of the game and knows how to play it. Those traits helped him at NC and continue to serve him well at USC-Lancaster.

"Brandon has the tools to be a very good player," said Cash of the 5-foot-11, 160-pounder. "He runs well and throws well. He just needs to see more competition. I think the competition he is seeing in college is good for him. He has a chance to be a real good ballplayer.

"Hopefully, after two years there, he can grow and mature as a player and can get to the Division I level."

Faulkenberry said it did not take him long to decide that USC-Lancaster was the best fit for him, both academically and athletically.

"It’s pretty nice," the sports management major said of the school. "When I went up there for a visit and then, for orientation, I thought it was the right place for me. I liked it a lot."

Cash said he has no doubts that Faulkenberry will be a success at USC-Lancaster and then, at a four-year school. His only complaint is that other coaches will get to coach him longer than the one season in which Cash had Faulkenberry.

"Brandon is a good team player. He has a lot of ability, which he will display at the next level," Cash said. "I just wish I would have had more years with him because he’s such a raw talent."

As for Faulkenberry, whoever is coaching him is fine with him. The way he looks at it, he is continuing to live out a boyhood dream of playing baseball.

"I’ve always wanted to play, ever since I was little," he said. "This was something that I always wanted to do."

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