The way Chris Pond sees it, Southern Wesleyan is getting a steal.
Goose Creek High School senior shortstop/pitcher Tyler Rio has signed with the Warriors after earning five letters with the Gators.
“Not taking anything away from Southern Wesleyan but I think Tyler could have gone to a Div. I or upper-tier Division II school,” said Pond, who just wrapped up his first season as coach of the Gators. “Either way, I’m glad he gets to continue his career. He’s only going to grow in the next couple years.”
Southern Wesleyan is an NAIA school located in Central, near Clemson in Pickens County.
Rio began playing on the varsity team in the eighth grade and finished with a solid senior campaign this spring.
He was 5-4 as the No. 2 region starter and struck out 65 batters in 52 innings. He also batted .284 with 13 runs and nine RBIs as the Gators finished second in Region 7-AAAA and advanced to the District V title game.
Rio topped the .300 mark at the plate as a freshman (.323) and sophomore (.310) and had four pitching victories apiece his sophomore (4-4, 3.07 ERA) and junior seasons (4-2, 1.89 ERA).
“I’m very pleased to have gotten to coach him for one year,” Pond said. “I’ve only had one other player to work as hard as he did and that was Cody Craig at Timberland. You wish you had 20 of them just like him. He put in extra time.”
Southern Wesleyan is a member of the 12-team Southern States Athletic Conference.