South Carolina’s Amazing Meredith McFadden 0

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

COLUMBIA, S.C. — One of the most thankless jobs in the world is the bullpen catcher.

Often working in obscurity, bullpen catchers never play in games but serve an incredibly important role in the success of pitchers while often getting beat up with balls that bounce in the dirt and ricochet off their bodies.

Veteran bullpen catchers often suffer knee damage because of squatting so many times in their life. If they receive high velocity pitches over and over again, their receiving thumbs in gloves suffer nerve damage.

Constant bruises are part of life with these people who love the game of baseball.

One of the best bullpen catchers in the USA is a talented lady at the University of South Carolina named Meredith McFadden.

She is the first female NCAA Div. I bullpen catcher at a power 5 university.

A life-long baseball player starting from the age of 4 and a huge fan of the Gamecocks, her dream has been to make the USA women’s baseball team.

As a catcher at Olympic High School (Charlotte, N.C.), she also came up with the idea of volunteering to be a bullpen catcher for South Carolina’s baseball team when she started attending college.

So she sent an e-mail to the baseball office offering her catching services once she arrived on campus.

She received an e-mail back that said they would keep her e-mail and get back to her if an opening came up.

Last summer Meredith was notified that she could try out as a bullpen catcher in August. After an impressive audition, she was immediately brought on board.

Since then, she has caught thousands of pitches in practices, scrimmages and in games at home and on the road since that humble beginning and is an integral part of the South Carolina baseball family now.

It is rare to see any women involved in college baseball. Collegiate Baseball is aware of two other ladies who are participating in college baseball this season.

One is Brown freshman Olivia Pichardo. She recently pinch hit during a 10-1 loss to Bryant and became the first female in history to appear in an NCAA Div. I baseball game.

Marika Lyszczyk is a RHP at Sonoma State. She has been playing baseball since the age of five and pitched in two innings this season. She hasn’t given up an earned run.

Catching Elite Pitchers
Let’s let Meredith take it from here and explain her fascinating journey into the world of elite college baseball which is dominated by men.

“I played baseball throughout my years at Olympic High School (Charlotte, N.C.),” said McFadden.

“I was the only girl on those baseball teams. I played JV my freshman and sophomore years and then on the varsity my final two years.

“My junior year of high school in 2020 was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit full force. So we didn’t have much of a season. I knew I was going to attend USC because this is my dream school.

“I had an opportunity to play baseball at lower levels. But I knew I wanted to go to USC. I reached out to the USC baseball program and offered my services once I started attending South Carolina. I received a reply that they didn’t really have a need for me at the moment. But if they had an opening, they would let me know.

“Fast forward a few years later, I get a message from the director of baseball operations at South Carolina asking if I was still interested. They kept my e-mail and offered me a chance to try out.

“I jumped at the opportunity and said yes. I came out to Founders Park in Columbia, S.C. at the very end of last summer to try out as a bullpen catcher.

“They asked me to stay on for the fall and 2023 baseball season. That was such a cool moment when they broke the good news to me. I grew up a HUGE Gamecocks’ fan. My family bleeds garnet and black. My great grandfather went here along with my uncle as well as my grandparents.

“There is so much tradition at this school with the baseball program. It was exciting to be part of it.”

Since late August of 2022, she received pitches 4 ½ months up to the Christmas break and an additional 10 ½ weeks during the spring of 2023.

Collegiate Baseball estimates that she has received over 1,500 pitches during this time.

McFadden said catching high school pitchers at Olympic High School was fun.

But catching elite pitchers at South Carolina was a new challenge since virtually every hurler throws over 90 mph with wicked movement, including a few who throw over 95 mph.

To read more of this story, purchase the April 7, 2023 issue of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.