Nick Godwin: Comeback Plan for Forgotten Man

Randy Godwin, father of Gamecock RHP Nick Godwin, called the USC offer a "dream come true." Nick grew up a Gamecock fan in North Augusta. After two successful seasons towing the rubber at Spartanburg Methodist College, Nick was off to play for his Gamecocks. That's when the "dream come true" started to crumble.

While major publications like Baseball America harp on the 2008 Yardcocks' potential pitching problems, the team is busy regrouping from an injury-laden 2007. With gleaming possibilities having been envisioned by Coaches Tanner and Calvi, the Gamecocks were dealt an unexpected blow before the 2007 campaign started.

USC recruit Nick Godwin, a 2006 Coastal Plains League All-Star, fell victim to a broken foot in the fall. Unfortunately for any pitcher, feet and legs are as important as the elbow and shoulder, thus making Godwin's return uncomfortable and ultimately unsuccessful.

His development thwarted by a six week layoff, Godwin pitched sparingly and ineffectively, while also burning a year of eligibility. At season's end, he was another forgotten name after only a few Gamecock starts.

"When I broke my foot I had to take six or so weeks off, and I just couldn't get a feel for it," said Godwin, "I didn't really know how to get comfortable. I was trying to get the hang of doing something new."

Enter the Summer of 2007, and another opportunity with the Columbia Blowfish of the Coastal Plains League, and Godwin has finally come full circle. Maybe it was over-compensation for an injured foot or a subconscious fear of re-injuring it, but Godwin had lost his curve ball – probably his best pitch. His fastball also had lost some pop, along with some movement. But it was in his first bullpen session as a member of the 2007 Blowfish that manager Tim Medlin spotted a small flaw in his mechanics – another vital ingredient in pitching. Medlin took the opportunity to also make a slight change to his head position. The results were almost immediate. So immediate, in fact, it led some to unfairly question Gamecock pitching Coach Mark Calvi as to why he didn't pick up the flaw earlier. When the question comes up, both Nick and his father are quick to defend Calvi. "They hadn't seen me enough to know what I was looking for. That had a lot to do with it," said Nick, "I hate that (Calvi) got questioned about it. He's a great guy and a great coach."

Randy Godwin went even further to defend Coach Calvi saying, "You try everything. I think Calvi did a good job. This was just something that we tried, one of a bunch of things we tried, and it worked. It was so minute, but since he had pitched for the Blowfish last year, they knew what to look for. I'm his Dad and I didn't even pick it up. Sometimes having the same coach two seasons in a row is a big benefit. If the roles were reversed, Calvi would have caught it and Medlin would have gotten the questions."

This season with a newly corrected flaw, Godwin is 5-2 with a 2.19 ERA. He's also struck out 52 batters while only walking an anemic 14 in 49.1 innings pitched.

Those fantastic numbers earned him yet another spot on the Coastal Plains League All Star team. One of his best games pitching wound up being a loss, as the Blowfish bats went stale and Godwin ended up dropping the contest 1-0.

Manager Tim Medlin said of Godwin, "He's got the stuff to be a first-rate guy. He's been great so far."

The curve ball that Godwin throws must be filthy, and here's why: he only throws two pitches. He throws a fastball in the upper eighties and a curve. It's almost impossible for a young man to make it this far while throwing only two pitches. Well, that's changing. Though he does have awesome control, any SEC pitcher or coach will admit that adding a change-up will complete the package. If one can locate pitches, keep a batter off balance by constantly changing spots and then throw a change up at the right time – he'll be tough to hit. Godwin is adding the change, as is his Blowfish teammate Blake Cooper.

"His change-up is coming around a lot," said Randy Godwin, "His change is getting a lot better. A couple a games ago was the best I've seen him throw. If he gets one up around ninety then hits an eighty mile an hour change, it really helps because his curve is nasty."

With Jay Brown on pace to be ready for the 2008 season, the 2007 emergence of Blake Cooper, the veteran arm of Mike Cisco, an outstanding incoming recruiting class, and a rejuvenated Nick Godwin, the South Carolina pitching should be strong.

Surely Cisco, Brown and Cooper have the inside track on the weekend rotation, but that doesn't bother Godwin, who said, "Anything to get on the field would be fine by me. Ideally, I'd like to start. It's what I've always done. But I'll go to the bullpen if I have to just to help the team win."

After all, when you're "living a dream" there are no mechanical flaws or hanging curves to worry about. The only goal is to not wake up. Do whatever it takes to keep the dream going.

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