Early in the season, freshman infielder/right-handed pitcher Michael Braswell has brought his energy to the field, quickly becoming a fan-favorite among Gamecock baseball fans.
"He's dynamic. He's a kid, he's got fire," senior outfielder Matt Hogan said. "Every once in a while you gotta pull him back a little bit, but at the same time you've gotta let him run with that cause that's confidence, that's his fire, that's the way he plays. He fires up the crowd and at the same time fires us up. That's one of the guys you root for and you want to play well."
Making his debut as the two-hole hitter in the opening day lineup, Braswell went 2-4 with a solo home run, three runs scored and a walk on Feb. 18.
Fans got their first taste of Braswell's personality in the third inning of a 9-7 win against UNC-Greensboro when he made a throw deep in the hole to prevent a runner from scoring. As he jogged off the field, he delivered a bow-and-arrow celebration to energize the sellout crowd at Founders Park.
Fifth-year outfielder Andrew Eyster said he's never "seen a freshman have so much confidence in himself."
"As we've played more and more, it's more of a confidence than an arrogance," Eyster said. "At the beginning, it might have come off as that just cause we didn't know him. We didn't know his energy and how he played, but now it's — myself and everyone else — we really appreciate the energy that he brings."
Despite not playing like it, Braswell said he's always nervous, adding that his confidence came from his dad telling him, "If you're not nervous, then you don't care."
"My confidence just comes from me putting in work," Braswell said. "I know what kind of work I put in, and I know what I can do for a team and I know what I can do personally. I think that I've proven that in the past and if I keep having that mindset, then I'm gonna keep proving it in the future."
In the rubber match of the opening series, Braswell shined in a comeback win over the Spartans. He made his debut on the mound when he pitched in the top of the 10th inning and struck out the side.
In the bottom half of the inning, he drove in the game-winning run with an RBI fielder's choice and gave South Carolina its first walk-off victory of the year.
Braswell finished opening weekend 4-13 (.308) at the plate with a home run, four runs scored and four RBI.
His on-field performance culminated in being named the SEC Freshman of the Week on Feb. 21.
Since then, Braswell has continued to perform well, as he's picked up eight hits in his last four games, raising his batting average to .429. Head coach Mark Kingston said, "kid's a winner" about Braswell and that Braswell is the type of player to want in a program.
"Guys that love the competition, that want to be a big part of it and want to be in the middle of it," head coach Mark Kingston said. "He was confident when we sent him to the bullpen. He was confident when he was walking to the plate, that he was going to give us a great at-bat. He's a winner, he's a good baseball player and I'm glad he's a Gamecock."
Even in the midst of the action, Braswell said he remembers that baseball is just a game.
"At the end of the day — take away all the cameras, take away all the SEC everything — it's just a game," Braswell said. "The point of the game in my opinion is to have fun playing it as well. Like I said, you have to take it serious as well, obviously there's things you have to do — you have to put in work and everything like that — but at the end of the day, if you're not having fun with it, then what's the point?"