After coming from a junior college baseball program to be an integral part of the pitching staff at College of Charleston last season, Tradd James was ready to finish his final year of college baseball in hopes of helping the Cougars to the NCAA …
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After coming from a junior college baseball program to be an integral part of the pitching staff at College of Charleston last season, Tradd James was ready to finish his final year of college baseball in hopes of helping the Cougars to the NCAA tournament.
Then, like every other collegiate spring sports team throughout the country, James had his season pulled out from under him due to the NCAA cancelling the season due to the threat imposed by the coronavirus.
James, who played at Sumter High School and the with the American Legion Sumter P-15's, will have the option to return to Charleston for one more go of it as a senior since the NCAA decided to grant another year of eligibility to those who played spring sports. Now he's waiting to see how everything pans out before making a decision.
"I'm not entirely sure," James said in a telephone interview last week from his apartment in Charleston. "I plan on it, but it really honestly depends on what the NCAA says and what they come out with and how they're handling the whole situation. But as of right now I'm leaning toward coming back."
James is wanting to see what kind of accommodations the NCAA makes in order to handle basically having five classes to deal with since this year's senior players will be allowed to return.
"(I want to see) just kind of like all the guidelines that go into it, like what they plan on doing with scholarships, what the roster size is going to be, all of that kind of stuff," he said.
On the academic side of things, it actually works out to James' benefit. He was going to have to take another semester in the fall to graduate regardless.
"It kind of works out well for me having another year where I can adjust my work load, my course load and all of that stuff," he said.
Still, it's way too early in the process to come up with a plan on his future. James has yet to have any discussions with head coach Chad Holbrook about his situation.
"As time goes on and we kind of figure more stuff out, that's when I'll have one of those conversations with him," James said.
While James isn't particularly happy with the disruption caused by the coronavirus, he said he understands why it was done.
"As much as I want to be playing, I think it's the -proper measures that need to be taken to try and get ahead of this thing because we've never had anything like this," he said.
James isn't really doing anything with baseball at this point. He's running to try and stay in shape, and he's focusing on finishing his spring courses online. He's not looking forward to doing classes like that each day.
"I really like the face-to-face interaction with the professor," James said. "It really helps me to focus. It's going to be tough for me to take my classes as I sit in my bed or on my couch."
The time away from baseball may end up being a good thing for James. It will allow him to rest his right arm. He had been having shoulder issues, which had limited him to two appearances for the Cougars, who were 12-2 on the season.
James pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the two games. He pitched two innings in a 4-2 loss to Maryland on Feb. 16 and 1 2/3 innings while picking up the win in an 11-2 triumph over Clemson on March 4. James had four strikeouts against two walks and had allowed just one hit.
James said the shoulder problems carried over from last season. He said he pitched through the problems last season because Charleston was already inundated with a rash of injuries on its pitching staff.
He was a jack of all trades for the staff and was quite good in all of the roles. He pitched in 19 games, five of them starts and had a 3-0 win-loss record with a 2.77 earned run average. He had 48 2/3 innings and struck out 37. His longest outing was 5 1/3 innings in a win over Colonial Athletic Association foe Towson.
"Me and several other guys kind of bounced around and they (the coaching staff) put us in roles and spots where they thought we would excel," James said. "I started, did middle relief, set up."
James said he was happy to be back in a relief role, saying he had never really been a starter and didn't particularly enjoy it.
That James got the opportunity to play baseball beyond high school, much less at a Division I school, has come as a surprise to him. He didn't pitch or play a great deal at Sumter High and didn't get an offer of any kind until June of 2016.
That's when Florence-Darlington Technical College head coach Preston McDonald saw James pitching in a game for the P-15's. McDonald, a former Lakewood High and Sumter P-15's standout, liked what he saw of the 5-foot-9-inch James and offered him the chance to play for him.
No, I never even thought of playing DI baseball," James said. "I was just happy once I got the offer from Flo-Dar, happy to keep playing. I'm truly grateful."
James compiled a 6-3 record with three saves and 64 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings in his two seasons with the Stingers. He struck out 34 batters and posted a 2.55 ERA in 24 2/3 innings as a sophomore when Flor-Dar reached the Junior College World Series.
His pitching coach his first season at Flo-Dar was Will Dorton. James was supposed to redshirt that year, but he credits Dorton with helping him develop quickly and become a reliever as freshman. Dorton is now his pitching coach at Charleston.
James originally committed to North Carolina Greensboro, but the offer was pulled after he had a bad appearance with UNCG coaches in attendance. He thinks he was meant to be with the Cougars all along, and he isn't fretting about what is the next step for him.
"I've always felt things work out how they're supposed to, and that's kind of my philosophy right now."
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