Latest transfer portal commit felt wanted at South Carolina
After thinking he would but ultimately not getting picked in the MLB Draft, Kevin Madden expected to return to Virginia Tech and play at least one more season in Blacksburg.
But, when that wasn’t an option, Madden found himself needing to find another spot to play with a month before most semesters began across the country.
Numerous schools reached out to the infielder, and Madden ultimately chose South Carolina and will take the step up to SEC baseball next season.
“I’m like, ‘Well, shoot. I got to go play more college baseball. If I can’t do it at Tech, I have to do it somewhere else,” Madden said. “Coach Kingston actually emailed me and said, would you be interested in coming to South Carolina?’ I said, ‘Heck yeah,’ and responded. He gave me a call and I talked to the staff and worked it out.”
Sifting through a bevy of schools pursuing him to play for their respective programs in 2022, Madden ultimately picked the Gamecocks and Mark Kingston in large part because of the conference and the fact he felt wanted at South Carolina.
“I’ve always heard good things about their stadium. I played with Wes Clarke back in the day and know he had a lot of success there. Really finding a spot and a staff that wanted me was really important,” Madden said. “The coaches at South Carolina seem like they wanted me as much as I wanted to go there. That’s what really mattered.”
Madden has played in 118 of the 121 games Virginia Tech has played the last three seasons with 117 starts and is a career .306 hitter, slashing .306/.353/.425 with 62 strikeouts and 26 walks in 461 career at-bats.
Last season he slashed .313/.361/.418 with 37 RBI and just 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in 201 at-bats. His Batting Averaged on Balls in Play (BABIP), which measures how batted balls that aren’t home runs get down for hits, in 2021 was .333.
That is second among South Carolina’s current returning players and incoming transfers behind only Andrew Eyster (.374), and him striking out once every 9.1 at-bats is best among returners.
“Offensively I’m definitely going to put the ball in play. I don’t strike out much,” Madden said. “I love fastballs, and heard you get more of those in the SEC. I hit for high average. I pick and choose spots to slug and hit for power. I had a rule with myself to not go under .300.”
Madden hasn’t yet gotten to talk with new recruiting coordinator and hitting coach Chad Caillet, who was hired last week, but is excited about the potential there is for his offensive game.
“I got a pretty flat swing but maybe coach Kingston and works something out or whoever the new hitting guy is we can get some loft on my swing and start hitting balls out of the ballpark.”
Madden said he feels most comfortable at third base, and thinks he can bring a veteran bat and leadership qualities to this year’s team while also bringing what he calls a “unique” game to Columbia.
“It’s pretty unique. I’m a pretty intense guy on the field and made a lot of relationships with umpires, good and bad, over the years,” he said. “I play hard. I do everything about as 100 percent as I can on the field. I try to find the game within the game out there cause sometimes it gets boring. That’s just how my mind works.”