Bluffton's Gillespie to play baseball at USC Beaufort

ksalter@islandpacket.comApril 22, 2014 

Bluffton High School senior Wes Gillespie picked up a pen to sign on for four years of baseball at USC Beaufort on Tuesday morning, father Ray on one side and mother Angie on the other.

Gillespie's parents have always been close by, and that's just the way he likes it.

The standout catcher became the 17th Bobcat to commit to play college sports this year, doing so with both Bobcats and Sand Sharks coaches looking on.

"It feels really good," Gillespie said. "I feel really accomplished. I worked hard to get here."

As for most athletes, it wasn't always a smooth path to success. The family moved from Prattville, Ala. in his sophomore year, a transition that Gillespie admitted wasn't always easy.

"At first it was pretty difficult, but I met a couple friends and my parents were there the whole time too," Gillespie said.

That family connection has been a constant in Gillespie's life, both behind the plate and at home, where he spends a lot of time with his two parents and his older brother, Hayden, a sophomore at South Carolina. Both father and son enjoy fishing together, and the catcher has apparently also taken to the kitchen. He originally wanted to go to culinary school and loves to cook.

Now he'll be in the mix behind the plate for head coach Bryan Lewallyn and the Sand Sharks.

"I've got a strong arm, an accurate arm," Gillespie said, though he admitted the need to sharpen other aspects of his game. "I need to get my hitting up."

Lewallyn said he loves Gillespie's versatility -- aside from catcher, Gillespie also featured occasionally at shortstop and on the mound -- and is excited to bring a local product into the program.

"That's one thing we're really big on," Lewallyn said. "To this point, we haven't had a lot of success with Bluffton and Hilton Head. Anytime you can get a local guy, there are ties to the community, to family. That's always an important factor for us."

Gillespie's father said signing to play college baseball is the fulfillment of a longtime aspiration, and evidence that his son continues to grow as a young man.

"It's been his goal to play at the next level since he picked a ball up at the age of four," Ray Gillespie said. "Really glad he is able to stay close to home."

That makes two of them, according to Wes.

"I just love hanging out with my family."

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