Championship Series Game
2 Recap: South Carolina 2, UCLA 1 (11)
Roth, Price Dig Deep for Gamecocks
USC Looks Like Champion Now
and Game Stories
College World Series Capsules
(Photos by Craig Jackson)
Neb. – Across the Southeast and
beyond, more than a few college coaches are kicking themselves.
For the past 11 days, they’ve watched Jackie
Bradley Jr. blossom on the national stage, helping lead South
Carolina to its first national championship. For the past 11
days, many are probably lamenting the fact that they missed on
the sweet-swinging, smooth-fielding centerfielder from Prince
George, Va., a short drive from Richmond.
Coaches miss on players all the time. It’s part
of recruiting. It just becomes a little more painful when the
player goes on to become the Most Outstanding Player of the
College World Series.
“Everybody overlooked him,” his father Jackie
Bradley Sr. said Tuesday night on the infield of Rosenblatt
Stadium, college baseball’s biggest stage. “I don’t know how
they overlooked him.”
Bradley wasn’t a huge kid when he made the Prince
George High School varsity as a ninth-grader. A bit raw but with
loads of potential, some Virginia colleges, namely VMI, showed
interest. But by and large, Bradley didn’t attract a ton of
Former South Carolina assistant Monte Lee, now
the head coach at College of Charleston, first spotted Bradley,
and Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner got a look at a showcase
tournament at East Cobb outside of Atlanta when Bradley was
playing for the Richmond Braves travel team.
“When you go recruit players, sometimes, you can
have a stopwatch, see a ball go out of the yard or a guy get
three hits, and you go, ‘he’s going to be good,’” Tanner said.
“That’s not exactly accurate. You get a guy like Jackie Bradley
who has tremendous character and he has ability, it’s a pretty
“He’s one of the best baseball players I’ve ever
coached. I’ve had guys that ran faster; I’ve had guys that hit
maybe more home runs, but he’s one of the best players I’ve ever
Mickey Roberts, Bradley’s high school coach at
Prince George, saw signs of greatness. When Bradley delivered a
3-2 offering for a game-tying single against Oklahoma in an
elimination game last week, Roberts wasn’t surprised.
“I knew he had tremendous drive,” Roberts said.
“He really wanted to succeed and really wanted to do well. I
knew he was going to be good. I knew coming out of high school
he would have a chance at professional baseball.”
chance has improved dramatically after a week in which Bradley
showcased his talents at the College World Series.
But it hasn’t come without a lot of hard work.
His mother, Alfreeda Hagans, recalls questioning
why Bradley would continue to work out even after practice was
“Ever since Jackie’s been young, he’s always
worked hard,” she said. “Even after practice, he’d go practice
on his own, run hills.” Bradley would say, “Mom, in order to be
the best, you’ve got to do extra, you’ve got to work hard.”
So Bradley worked. And worked. And worked.
“I have no idea,” the star outfielder said about
the recruiting process. “I guess they overlooked, as they say,
or made a mistake. I’m glad of where I am now. I have no
regrets. I’m so glad I came to college and I believe I came to
the best program in the country.”
His younger brother Dominique Bradley said
Tuesday night, “The way I look at it, now all those teams that
are watching him play know, they’re looking like, ‘Aw man, what
a great kid we could have had on our team.’”
Tanner and the Gamecocks are grateful they found
Bradley. Quiet, yet confident, Tanner calls him a team-first
kind of player.
And now, he’s gone from small-town Prince George,
Va., to the toast of Omaha.
“The last one at Rosenblatt, it’s definitely
going to be a memory that we can hold on to,” Bradley said after
cradling the Most Outstanding Player trophy. “It’s definitely a
dream come true.”