USC Upstate head coach Matt Fincher announced Monday the signing of Colton Chupp, Elijah Willingham and Trey Van Der Weide to national letters of intent during the early signing period.
“We are very excited about this incoming class,” USC Upstate assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ethan Guevin said. “We feel like all three of these guys will come in and work hard to make a positive impact on our program right away. They are all tremendous competitors and want the ball. With all three of them being left-handed, we feel like they help to address a big need on our staff. With any of these lefties on the mound, we feel good about our chances.”
A native of Myakka City, Fla., by way of Lakewood Ranch High School, Chupp is ranked among the top 1000 players in the nation by Perfect Game. In addition, Perfect Game also ranks Chupp No. 172 among all left-handed pitchers and the No. 24 lefty in the state of Florida. Overall, he is rated as the No. 219 player in Florida by the publication.
Chupp posted a 0.74 earned run average last season and compiled 38 strikeouts in 38.0 innings of work. He finished the season with three wins and allowed just four earned runs on his way to earning all-area first team and all-state accolades.
“Colton is a guy who continues to improve every time I see him pitch,” Guevin said. “His fastball has been up to 90, but what impresses me most is his feel for how to pitch. He has a very good change-up and mixes his pitches well. He is a great kid and will be a tremendous asset to our pitching staff.”
Willingham will arrive in Spartanburg following a standout career at Paulding County High School in Hiram, Ga. He enters his senior season ranked as the No. 209 left-handed pitcher in the nation and the No. 24 southpaw in the state of Georgia by Perfect Game. Willingham also stands as the No. 194 player in Georgia and is among the top 1000 in the nation.
Willingham turned in a 1.89 earned run average to go along with 89 strikeouts in 51.0 innings pitched last season for the Patriots. He struck out 17 batters in a seven inning tournament and also pitched a no hitter en route to being named the 2014 Paulding County Pitcher of the Year.
“Elijah can add and subtract with all his pitches in a way that demonstrates control and game management like few high school age players I have seen,” Guevin said. “He has recently added a very good slider to his already strong three pitch repertoire. We can’t wait for him to put a Spartan uniform on.”
A former teammate of current Upstate infielder Zach Krider, Van Der Weide currently plays at Lake Brantley High School in Longwood, Fla., and completes the trio of lefties in the early signing class. Van Der Weide is ranked as the No. 292 player in Florida and the No. 37 left-handed pitcher in the state by Perfect Game.
Van Der Weide was also a 2014 Perfect Game Underclass Honorable Mention and was a member of the 2014 Perfect Game Baseball Championship Series finals 17U All-Tournament Team.
His talents extend past the baseball diamond as well, as Van Der Weide is a standout tight end and outside linebacker for the Patriots, earning all-conference first team honors on defense and second team honors on offense. Additionally, Van Der Weide was selected to the 2014 Central Florida All-Star Team.
“Trey is an outstanding athlete and has the ability and mentality to be a power pitcher from the left side,” Guevin said. “He is an All-Star football player as well and brings that bulldog mentality with him to the baseball field. His work ethic makes everyone around him better and his fastball and slider have the potential to be plus pitches at this level. He has a bright future here.”