Josh McElwee, a 2007 Andrews High School graduate, is the all-time strikeout leader at Newberry College.
By Chris Sokoloski
With his Newberry College career now finished, Josh McElwee has set his sights on the big leagues.
The 2007 Andrews High School graduate is hoping to hear his name called during the Major League Baseball draft June 4-6.
"I'll try my hand and work my way through the minor leagues," McElwee said. "I feel like if I get an opportunity I can make the best of it. Hard work will get me up there. Maybe I'll get a shot at playing in the big leagues one day."
His Newberry coach thinks he has a chance.
"He understands the game and wants to learn more about the game," said Russell Triplett, who just finished his second season as Wolves' head coach. "His arm strength and how he pitches gives him a chance to do well in the minor leagues and maybe move up."
McElwee graduated from Newberry on May 8 with bachelor's degree in business administration.
During his senior season he went 5-4 and posted a 3.99 earned run average. In 79 innings, he allowed 76 hits, 44 runs (35 earned), 35 walks and struck out 97.
At the plate he batted .273 with 33 hits and 11 walks, scored 15 runs and drove in 20 runs.
He was twice named South Atlantic Conference pitcher of the week and made the All-SAC first team.
McElwee also made the watch list for the Tino Martinez Award, which is given annually to the Division II player of the year.
"It's a great honor," McElwee said. "I appreciate everyone who's had a part in that. It really is a great honor just to be nominated at all, to be on the watch list."
The Wolves were 20-31 overall in 2012 and 12-15 in the conference.
For his career, McElwee was 17-12. He pitched 263 innings, allowing 256 hits, 149 runs (114 earned), and 119 walks. His 318 strikeouts are the most of any pitcher in Newberry history.
College was not always a smooth ride for McElwee, who missed almost a year after having the tendon in his elbow reconstructed. The surgery is common for pitchers, and is better known as "Tommy John surgery," after the baseball player who made it famous.
"It took a while to get my stuff back but once it came back it was good," McElwee said.
"He's a guy who has faced a lot of adversity in his time here with injuries, but he battled through them and worked really hard to rehab them," Triplett said.
Pitchers normally missed at least 12 months after the surgery, but McElwee was back in less than that.
"That's a testament to his work ethic," Triplett said. "He's one of the most competitive guys I've ever been around."
When he had a break from school, McElwee returned home to watch his younger brother, Alex, pitch for the Yellow Jackets.
"It's an honor to come back here and talk to people around here and they say good things about [Alex]," McElwee said. "I'm proud of him and I'm glad he's doing well."
McElwee had some familiar faces with him on the Newberry squad: former Andrews teammates Kevin Rufus and Hunter Cox.
Rufus hit .362 this year as a senior. He had 47 hits and 29 RBIs, scored 36 runs, drew 23 walks, and stole 16 bases.
He became the first Newberry player to win a SAC Gold Glove since the conference started handing them out in 2010. Rufus made no errors in the outfield in two seasons, and recorded 72 outfield putouts in 2012.
Cox, junior, hit .261 this season. He had 31 hits and 12 RBIs, scored 11 runs and walked eight times.
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