Joining Bryson Edwards, front and center, at Tuesday's ceremony were, front row from left, Cohen Edwards, Raegan Edwards, Jammy Edwards and Piercen Edwards; back row, from left, PCHS Principal Dr. Brandon Schweitzer, head baseball coach Billy Alm, assistant baseball coach Josh Money and athletic director Rex Wells.

Summer success opens avenue for Edwards to join Coker baseball program

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed Bryson Edwards’ plans for his junior season in Polk County’s baseball program.

A successful summer with his travel club, though, put Edwards on a fast track to his college destination.

The Wolverine senior signed a letter-of-intent Tuesday to play baseball at Coker College, making his commitment official in a short ceremony in Polk County’s auditorium.

Edwards played just three games last spring for Polk, hitting .429, before the pandemic shut down high school athletics in mid-March. But Edwards spent the summer playing with the Upstate Mavericks Black travel program, based in the Greenville/Spartanburg area, and caught the eye of Coker coaches.

“That’s where they noticed me, and they started coming to tournaments to watch me play,” Edwards said.

“This means a lot. I’ve wanted to play college baseball since I was a little kid. It’s kind of surreal now, thinking about all the work I put in, me and with my team. My teammates and my coaches all made me better.”

The effort has turned Edwards, a middle infielder, into one of the better defensive players in recent Polk County history, according to head coach Billy Alm.

“He’s got amazing hands,” Alm said. “Defensively, he has the quickest release of anyone I’ve had playing here since Danny Fraga (who played at the college and professional levels). Defense has always been his strength.

“He’s gotten bigger, faster, stronger working with Coach (Lemont) Jones in his weightlifting program. He’s been swinging the stick really well this year.”

Though the 2021 baseball season isn’t slated to begin until April, Alm already knows how he plans to use Edwards in his lineup.

“He’ll probably be batting out of the two hole and playing shortstop,” Alm said. “And he’s going to eat up some innings on the mound.”

Edwards will become the third recent Polk County graduate to play collegiately at Coker, located in Hartsville, S.C., joining recent Coker graduates Kara Overholt (volleyball) and Hayley Kropp (basketball). He hopes to major in business administration and sports management.

“I didn’t want to go to a huge school,” Edwards said. “I got there and it felt a lot like home. The coaches brought me in right away and made me feel like part of the family.”

While excited about the opportunity ahead, Edwards would love nothing more than to enjoy a senior season on the field at The Bottoms. He’s hoping the pandemic doesn’t prevent that from happening, but now he also knows that more baseball awaits in his future.

“This summer, when I started playing baseball again, things finally felt like normal,” he said. “Not knowing if I’m going to get a senior season or not is tough. But no matter what happens, now I know I get four more years to play.”