COLUMBIA -- Even when Josiah Sightler wasn’t in the lineup battling struggles at the plate that are normal for an 18-year-old college player, he was holding a bat and working on his swing as the games were going on.
It wouldn’t be unheard of to look down and see him swinging a bat while watching his team play every weekend.
Tuesday night, after a season full of on-field and mental struggles, he got a chance to use that bat in a game and may have done enough to keep using it this weekend.
“We’re going to face a lot of lefties this weekend, so we’ll have to make a decision on if we keep him in there still against the lefties as well,” Mark Kingston said. “He gave himself a chance to continue to be considered.”
After starting the year 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts, Sightler made his third-ever start and picked up his first career hit in his second at-bat Tuesday, roping a RBI double off the wall in left field.
He finished the night 1-for-4 with two strikeouts but almost had another double, barreling up a ball late in the game that the defense played well. For a guy not having the year he wanted at the plate, a game like that could pay dividends down the road.
“It’s been very frustrating. It’s something I’ve never been through before. Coach told me I was in the lineup, I said, ‘OK, it’s time for me to take advantage of it,’” Sightler said. “I feel like I did. It’s about persevering and keep putting in the work and I feel like I have been.”
It’s been a struggle for Sightler, who came to South Carolina with a lot of fanfare after getting picked in the 12th round of the MLB Draft turning down a lot of money to come to college.
He fought hardships at the plate, saying Tuesday this is the hardest pitching he’s ever had to face, but hopes this can be a turning point in his freshman season.
It took until about two weeks ago for the imposing Sightler at 6-foot-3, 216 pounds, to feel comfortable at the plate and he thinks he’s done enough to make the trip to Columbia, Missouri, this weekend with the team. Game are Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 3 p.m., all on SECN+.
“I made a lot of adjustments to my swing, of course,” he said. It’s just about putting in the work. I’ve never had to put in as much work as I have been right now. Just make the adjustments I need to make, trusting the process and staying true to who I am.”
But he’s not the only one on the team hoping to replicate this week’s results in SEC play.
Noah Campbell, who admitted Tuesday he's struggled and hit into some bad luck as the team’s leadoff hitter, tied a career high with three hits and belted his first home run since the end of March in that 10-3 win over Charleston Southern.
It’s the second straight game he’s looked good in. After starting last weekend’s series against Texas A&M 0-for-5, he tweaked his swing a little and has gone 4-for-7 with three RBI and a homer since.
“I’ve just been trying to simplify things recently and trust my hands; I know they work all the time,” Campbell said. “I just have to trust those because I was letting my leg get in the way.”
Campbell said he thinks his performance the last couple of games can be a “good turning point,” to get the preseason All-SEC and All-American second baseman back on track.
“I mean I’ve always been a pretty positive person,” Campbell said. “For me it’s just knowing baseball’s hard and I’m going to get another chance the next day. It’s about going out there, being positive and staying the course.”