USA Baseball Adds Star Pitcher

Throughout the 2011 season, Coach Mark Calvi has logged serious miles assembling one of the best recruiting classes that South Alabama has signed in years. Now, as the spring signing period closes and the postseason of college baseball has begun, Calvi has added one more top prospect.

Shelton State Community College RHP Payton Gardner has signed a LOI with the University of South Alabama.

The 6'2,170 righty, who began his career at UAB after as stellar prep career at Mountain Brook, was Shelton State's top pitcher this past season. It is not hard to see why. During the regular season, Gardner was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA allowing 40 hits and 23 walks while striking out 77 in 76.1 innings. While those numbers are very good, the peripheral numbers are outstanding. Opposing batters hit .144 against him and he averaged a miniscule 0.83 walks/hits per innings pitched while striking out just over a batter per inning. That type of effort made him an Alabama Community College Conference 1st Team All-Region Selection. A good athlete, as a senior at Mountain Brook Gardner went 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA, 68 strike outs and 2 saves and was named The Birmingham News South Zone Pitcher of the Year while also starting at shortstop. In 2007, he was selected to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game.

This is a big pick-up for the University of South Alabama baseball program as Gardner has the talent, the pure stuff and the experience to push for a spot in the weekend rotation and possibly anchor the staff as the Friday night starter.

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