It's less than 30 miles up US 29 and 76 from Belton to Clemson; but it took Andrew Cox four years and a long detour to make the journey to the batter's box at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Once he settled in for his first collegiate action, Cox made the most of his opening weekend, as he batted .444 (4-for-9) while starting two games in left field and one at first base for the Tigers against Eastern Michigan.
A five-year baseball letterman at Belton-Honea Path High, Cox became one of the youngest players in the state ever to commit to a major college program when, at the end of a freshman season in which he helped the Bears win the state 3-A title, he announced his intentions to play for Ray Tanner at South Carolina.
A year later, after another stellar season in which he batted .440 and scored 32 runs, he had a change of heart and decided to follow his family connections to Clemson.
Cox's dad, Jimmy, was a placekicker on the Clemson football team in 1979-80, and his brother Jay, made the Tigers' baseball roster as a walk-on in 2011 after transferring from Darlington Technical College.
Cox signed with the Tigers in November of 2011, enrolled at Clemson in August of 2012, and then redshirted for Jack Leggett during the 2013 season.
He made his debut Friday in Clemson's starting lineup against Eastern Michigan, filling a lineup gap made available by Shane Kennedy's off-season ACL injury.
He went 2-for-4 and drew a walk in the Tigers' opener on Friday, went 1-for-2, walked and scored a run on Saturday, and then went 1-of-3 on Sunday.
Having taken early steps to claim a place in Clemson's lineup, Cox may well get an opportunity to fulfill a dream he's had since signing with the Tigers more than two years ago: playing against South Carolina, his former school of choice, when the teams meet weekend after next at Carolina Stadium in the opener of a three-game, three-site series.
“I actually look forward to that,” Cox told the Independent Mail's Adam Regan after he signed with Clemson. “That’s what the rivalry is about. It’s having people down on somebody else. It would make my day to come up there in a situation where my team needs me with runners at second and third in the top of the ninth to put us up by two at Carolina Stadium. There wouldn’t be more left in my life left to do than that.”