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Bowers gives early pledge to FDTC
TYLER BOWERS (right) talks with North Central head baseball coach Robbie Cash after Bowers committed to play baseball at Florence-Darlington Technical College.

Tyler Bowers has always been one to make things happen quickly on the baseball diamond. He is now doing the same off the field, as well.

In the spring of 2011, as a seventh-grader, he worked his way to becoming the starting shortstop at North Central and was thrust into the middle of the batting order. Since then, nobody has been able to budge him from the lineup.

Now, before he has even stepped on the field to play the first game of his junior campaign, the six-foot, 180-pounder already has the first two years of his post-high school career all laid out in front of him.

Last Friday, following a recruiting visit to Florence-Darlington Technical College with NCHS head baseball coach Robbie Cash earlier in the week, Bowers said he saw and heard enough for him to make a verbal commitment to Preston McDonald’s program.

The trip to the FDTC campus was the most recent time that McDonald had a chance to see Bowers. The Stingers’ head coach had seen the North Central junior playing for the Knights while McDonald was in the stands for nearly every game of the 2014 South Carolina State American Legion Baseball Tournament in Sumter, including watching Bowers play as a member of the Kershaw County Post 17 American Legion squad.

Bowers was given a tour of the school and the baseball facilities while also getting the chance to sit down and talk to McDonald. Shortly thereafter, he gave the Stingers’ boss his commitment and that he would enroll at the school in the fall of 2016.

Before he laced up his cleats for Monday’s first practice for the upcoming season, the soft-spoken Bowers talked about what he liked about FDTC.

"They have small classes, small recruiting numbers and the ability (McDonald) has to work with the professors and help me with my classes," Bowers said of his reasons for his commitment. "They also play in a strong baseball region."

Since bursting onto the scene as a seventh-grader, in which he earned class A All-State honors from the High School Sports Report (HSSR) while earning All-Region 3 laurels, Bowers has made a one-person assault on the North Central baseball record books.

In his first four seasons, Bowers has collected, 109 hits, tying him with former teammate Grayson King, now a sophomore pitcher at Francis Marion University, for the most hits in school history. Bowers already owns the school’s home run record with 12.

Bowers is coming off a 2014 campaign in which he was the Region 3-AA co-player of the year after having batted at a .444 clip with nine home runs, 26 runs batted in, four doubles, one triple while only have struck out once the entire season.

Used on the mound more as a sophomore than in his first three varsity seasons, Bowers went 4-1 with one save while finishing with a 1.78 earned run average. He fanned 58 batters in just 31.1 innings of work.

Cash said Bowers is the complete package and will only get better as he matures.

"I think it’s a great fit for Tyler," Cash said of Bowers’ early commitment. "They only carry 18 position players so, he’s going to go in there and get a chance to play early which is what you want from a two-year junior college program.

"I also like the situation that Coach McDonald has with grades; he checks on them daily and makes sure they are going to class. They have also done a great job of placing their players into (four-year) programs; over the past couple of years, they have sent four to five guys, each year, to Division I programs."

Cash said Bowers, who was a HSSR All-State and All-Region 3-A selection as an eighth-grader before being tabbed as a 2014 AA All-State choice by the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association, and the HSSR, will get a chance to showcase his talents in front of professional scouts as well as before college coaches during the fall season at FDTC.

"Tyler will have a lot of potential to be able to get to the next level after Florence-Darlington," Cash said of the opportunities which await Bowers.

One of the primary factors in Bowers’ verbal pledge to the Stingers was McDonald’s persistence --- along with several other college coaches --- in taking in Bowers’ games in the State American Legion tourney last July. Cash said it goes to show the benefits of playing American Legion baseball.

"Tyler’s recruitment really got going in the summer during Legion baseball," Cash said. "Coach McDonald had seen Tyler some in high school and heard about him in tournaments but he saw him in the state tournament in Sumter last year. That goes to prove that Legion baseball still works. If people don’t think that playing Legion baseball will help get you signed, then shame on you.

"Legion baseball still works. The last three guys that I have put into college baseball have played in the Legion baseball program here. And, I will say it again; I appreciate the (Post 17) American Legion program does for the young men in our county."

Cash said that in anticipation of Bowers’ enrolling at FDTC, he and Bowers have his classes set up for the second semester of his junior year as well as plotting out the path for his senior year at North Central. By getting Bowers set up academically, it will help him to adjust for what awaits him in college.

"One thing which Coach McDonald stresses is making sure his players go to class and keep their grades up," Cash said. "He has a mandatory study hall of six hours each week for his players. Those are the things which we are trying to impress upon all our student-athletes here at North Central."