Prep Baseball: Van der Poel signs with Gardner-Webb

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

By Mike London
SALISBURY — Salisbury senior Scott Van der Poel, who will be joining Division I Gardner-Webb’s program next fall, can hit.
Salisbury coach Scott Maddox has been aware of that fact for three years, but on the Hornets’ Easter trip to Florida, Maddox learned the hard way just how seriously Van der Poel, a right-handed hitting outfielder, punishes a baseball.
Maddox returned home from the Sunshine State with an unexpected an unusual souvenir — the outline of a baseball imprinted on his stomach. The free tattoo was a gift from Van der Poel, who lashed a liner through the third-base coaching box that nailed Maddox before he could take evasive action.
“Pulled a hamstring trying to get out of the way it,” Maddox said. “Unbelievable how hard Scott hit that ball. If it had gotten me in the head or the heart, I might not be here.”
As a rule, Van der Poel doesn’t endanger his coaches, but he does pose a major threat to the ERAs of opposing pitchers. He has three homers and 19 extra-base hits in a three-year varsity career.
“He works hard and he can mash,” teammate Brian Bauk said. “That’s why he’s going to a D-I school.”
Van der Poel batted .297 as a sophomore, bumped that to .463 as an all-county junior and is currently at .340 as a senior.
Like every other hitter in the county, he’s adjusting to the new BBCOR bats. Maddox is thankful he’s no longer swinging the explosive metal that was legal last season.
Maddox is sure of one thing about Van der Poel — that his best baseball lies ahead. Maddox believes Van der Poel has upside because he hasn’t played baseball continuously like most seniors who are next-level prospects.
“I played when I was young and loved it, but then I got away from the game a few years,” Van der Poel said. “I went to Salisbury Academy and we didn’t have a baseball team, so I was mostly concentrating on golf.”
Salisbury has no shortage of excellent golfers and only four guys can have a counting score. But it had a much more pressing need for Van der Poel on the diamond.
“Bauk’s father helped a lot as far as getting Scott back into baseball,” Maddox said. “And Scott’s dad did a great job of encouraging him without pushing him, and then he caught the baseball fever. Since then, he’s put in the time and the work to become a good player. He’s also listened to coaching. Not everyone does.”
Maddox actually turned down Van der Poel’s services a few summers ago, advising him to find a team where he could get more playing time.
“That’s back when we had the Cavornets Junior Legion team,” Maddox said. “We had a lot of experienced players from North Rowan, and I didn’t know how much Scott would play for us. But he got involved in a showcase league in Charlotte and things started to take off for him.”
Van der Poel has good speed. He’s run as fast as 6.8 in the 60-yard dash, and being able to run is something coaches can measure at camps.
Another thing that helped Van der Poel get recruited was grades. He takes AP and Honors courses, carries a 4.2 GPA and will receive a prestigious Presidential Scholarship to attend Gardner-Webb.
“The recruiting process was stressful, a roller coaster, and it didn’t look good for a while,” Van der Poel said. “But Gardner-Webb was always near the top of my list of schools. When baseball worked out there, it turned out to be one of easier decisions I’ve ever had. They’ve got a top business program, and I want to be an accountant. Jobs are hard to find, but accountants are always needed.”
Maddox is excited about Van der Poel’s college choice.
“It’s a win-win for him,” he said. “He’s going to a school he really likes, and at the same time, he’s got the chance to keep playing baseball.”
Maddox will miss Van der Poel when this season ends, but he won’t forget him. That line drive to the stomach made sure of that.
“Coach was in the way,” Van der Poel said with a smile.