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KERSHAW – The Andrew Jackson High School media center on Friday afternoon featured beaming faces, but the facial expressions had nothing to do with the close of the school week.
The happy reaction was about the future of Andrew Jackson senior student-athlete Tyler Rodgers, who signed to play baseball at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.
“This is a happy occasion because this event reflects Tyler’s commitment and hard work to take his education and game to the next level,” AJ coach Mike Lucas said. “I’m thrilled for Tyler because I know what he’s done to earn this chance with his effort on and off the field. He’s a top-notch young man and he will be an asset to USCL and its baseball program. I know coach Williams and coach Taylor look to add local talent and I feel Tyler is the type young man they want to build their program.”
Rodgers, a baseball and football standout at AJ, noted several reasons for playing at USCL.
“I’m glad to be able to play near home,” Rodgers said. “It’s a chance to work on my grades and get my academics in order as I move on in college.
“I feel they have a good, solid baseball program and I like the coaching staff,” he said. “They’re building a program there and I’m happy to be part of it.”
Rodgers, a three-year member of the AJ baseball program, including two seasons as a starter at first base, has been a key part of the Vols’ baseball success.
An all-region pick last season, Rodgers hit .479 with four home runs for the Vols who went 17-11 and earned a Class AA Upper State playoff berth with a runner-up finish in Region IV-AA.
Rodgers also played on the Lancaster Post 31 American Legion senior team last summer and earned the Offensive Award.
Last fall, Rodgers capped his Vols’ football career as a three-year letterman and two-year starter for AJ.
“Tyler’s really worked on his game in all areas,” said Lucas of the 6-3, 232-pounder. “He has a big bat in the heart of our lineup and has good speed for a big man. One area he’s really concentrated on in the preseason is his defense.
“What I like about Tyler is that he’s a quality teammate and is a strong role model for our younger players,” Lucas said. “He sets a good example for our younger players on and off the field. A year ago at this time, Tyler saw he needed to work hard on his game and in his schoolwork to make this day possible. He stands as a shining example of what hard work is all about.
“Tyler was energized to go to the next level and I feel USCL is a good choice,” Lucas said. “Coach Steve Williams and Toby Taylor and their staff do an outstanding job of developing talent. It’s good local players can be a part of that program and the big key for Tyler is that I feel the best is yet to come for him. If he keeps working like I know he can, he can continue to play baseball and advance his education.”