Students coming to college for the first time tend to look for new friends among people who share their interests and offer a comfort level when spending time together.
DC Arendas, a sophomore infielder with the South Carolina baseball team, arrived in Columbia from Greensboro, N.C., two summers ago. Along the way in his first year of school, he made contact with a like-minded person at a Bible study gathering, football quarterback Dylan Thompson.
They instantly hit it off the pair of thoughtful, personable athletes who share a strong Christian faith. And when a roommate slot opened up a year ago with Thompson and football guard A.J. Cann, Arendas jumped at the opportunity.
It was kind of a natural thing, Thompson said. I do think that God puts people in each others lives for a reason.
Arendas appreciates that he has found kindred spirits.
It has really been a blessing to me because those guys have been here through four years in a program that has achieved so much success, Arendas said. The coolest thing about our friendship is when we get home, we dont necessarily talk about performance or how we did that day. We talk about how we can grow and how we can get better and serve our teammates. That has helped me looking up to those guys and seeing them live out their faith daily.
Arendas also has discovered a comfort level on the playing field this season. As a freshman, he managed just one hit in 14 at-bats over 13 games. An accomplished defensive infielder, he spent last summer in Columbia playing for the Blowfish of the Coastal Plain League working on his swing and sharpening the defensive skills that might allow him to break through as a starter somewhere in the infield for the Gamecocks.
As it has turned out, Arendas ability to play second base, shortstop and third base has proved to be a godsend to USC coach Chad Holbrook, who is Arendas uncle. Second baseman Max Schrock, shortstop Marcus Mooney and third baseman Joey Pankake have missed time with injuries, and Arendas has filled in at all three spots.
Hes made some really big defensive plays, Holbrook said. Without DC Arendas, were in a world of hurt.
Arendas, whose mother Nicole is Holbrooks sister and whose father Dave is the director of baseball operations at North Carolina, doesnt mind moving around.
Im fine with it. I just want to help the team win any way we can, he said. Im not going to be consumed by what position I have.
In 46 games, 41 of them starts, Arendas is batting .291 with four homers, 23 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .390. He credited his Blowfish coaches this past summer, former major-leaguer Jonathan Johnson and former USC player Parker Bangs, as well as USC hitting coach Brian Buscher, another former major league player, for their work in making him better.
The increased playing time hasnt hurt either, as he has gotten acclimated to facing SEC pitching.
You gain confidence each day from getting the opportunity. The more you can learn and continue to get better on a daily basis helps you out, Arendas said.
Holbrook said Arendas consistent offensive output has enabled the coach to put him in various spots in the batting order.
He has been a very consistent performer ever since we got back to school in August for fall practice, Holbrook said. He would be a valuable member of our team if he hit .220. Its a bonus that hes hitting close to .300 and hit some homers and gotten some big hits with runners in scoring position.
Thompson said his roommate brings a steady, upbeat personality to the field.
Hes going to be the same guy pretty much every single day. Hes never going to come into the room yelling and screaming or be Mr. Excitement, Thompson said. But hes always got a constant joy about him. Nobody can take it from him. Thats been evident since the first time I met him. Living with him has reinforced that even more.
Arendas praised Thompson and Cann for providing him with some of that daily joy.
Theyre a lot of fun to be around, he said. We crack on each other a good bit, but its all out of brotherly love.