FLORENCE, S.C. – Francis Marion University baseball coach Art Inabinet has announced the signing of right-handed pitchers Don Sandifer of Bamberg and Will Smith of Blythewood and outfielder Dalton Gress of Aiken to national letters of intent to attend FMU this fall and play for the Patriots in 2010.
Sandifer, 6-0 220-pound, is a product of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, where he played for legendary coach David Horton.
This past season, he was named the Class A State Player of the Year by the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association after helping the Red Raiders to a 29-5 record and a second consecutive Class A state championship. He had a 10-1 pitching record with a 1.40 earned run average and 110 strikeouts in only 65 innings. At the plate, he hit .442 with six home runs and 42 runs batted in.
As a junior, he posted a 9-1 record with a 2.23 ERA and struck out 92 batters in only 66 innings. When not pitching, he also played first base, did not commit an error in the field, and batted .411 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs.
He will participate in the North-South All-Star contest next week in Conway. He was also an All-State selection as a junior and sophomore, and was named the HSSR Class A Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
Smith, 6-6 200-pounds, attended Blythewood High School, where he played for coach Barry Mizzell.
As a senior, he compiled a 3-6 record with a 2.06 ERA. He tallied 55 strikeouts in 47.2 innings and completed five of his starts. During the 2009 season, he set a school single-game record with 14 strikeouts and helped the Bengals to a 16-11 record and an appearance in the AAAA state playoffs.
He also had a 3-0 mark during the 2008 state playoffs.
Gress, 5-10, 160-pounds, is a product of South Aiken High School, where he played for coach Bob Polewski.
This past season, he batted .421 with one homer, three doubles, and 21 RBIs. He compiled a .548 slugging percentage and a .659 on-base percentage. On the mound, he recorded a 4-1 record with a 2.19 ERA and fanned 29 batters. Following a season that saw South Aiken post a 17-9 record, he was named to the AAA All-State Team and 5-AAA All-Region team.
Gress has also played with the East Cobb Baseball program.
“Sandifer is a power pitcher who has command of three pitches,” said Inabinet. “He possesses a fastball in the 88-90 mph range. He is a big sign for us and could be in our top-four rotation next spring.
“Smith is a tall, rangy pitcher with a live arm. His better days are still ahead of him, and the sky is the limit for his collegiate career.
“Gress is a very talented outfielder, with good speed and above average arm strength. He hits from the left side which is an added bonus.”
Francis Marion loses four seniors off last year’s 38-15-1 squad that finished second during the Peach Belt Conference regular season, won the PBC Tournament title, and earned its fourth NCAA Division II national tournament bid in the past seven years, placing third at the Southeast Regional. The Patriots were ranked 14th in the end-of-the-season Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division II Top 30 poll.