However, the player that the Maryville College baseball team is getting plays much bigger than those measurements indicate.
Dempsey committed to the Tennessee school in August and signed to play for the Scots Wednesday in front of family, friends and coaches at Cartersville High.
“He’s an all-around player, without a doubt,” Cartersville baseball coach Stuart Chester said of Dempsey. “He’s not 6-4, 220 but he plays like that. He’s probably, mentally and defensively, one of the better players to come through here.”
Dempsey chose Maryville over Covenant College and the University of North Georgia.
“I was talking to the coach, and got to tour the campus and hang out with some of the players, and they are actually losing seniors that play my position, shortstop and second,” Dempsey said. “So [the coach was] saying that I could fill in the spot as a freshman, and that was the main thing that pulled me to Maryville, the fact that I could play four more years instead of having to wait out two years and then play my last two.”
Dempsey still has another season of high school baseball remaining, but has already distinguished himself, particularly with his glove at second base the past two seasons. Dempsey will likely move over to fill in for Connor Justus at shortstop this season.
“As a coach, I sit on the bucket and I try to get a feel for how the game is going, and when the balls is hit in his direction, I feel good,” Chester said of Dempsey. “Defensively, he’s as sound as they come. He knows that. He’s like [Dustin] Pedroia for Boston. He’s not a big guy, but he makes a big impact.”
Dempsey likes the Pedroia comparisons.
“Dustin Pedroia is definitely my favorite player,” Dempsey said. “I like to think I’m pretty solid on defense and that my hitting and everything comes around, but I feel like defense is a major part of my baseball play.”
Dempsey is considering studying writing/communication in hopes of someday becoming a sports broadcaster.
As a result, the academics at Maryville also was a major determinant in Dempsey’s commitment.
“We are quite excited about the academic side of it,” Clift Dempsey, Clifton’s father said. “We also like the athletic side of it because there are a lot of similarities between the Cartersville program and that program, because of the integrity of the players. They showed a lot of class to us just as visitors.”
The Dempsey family hopes for a very similar experience for Clifton at Maryville to the one in Cartersville. Dempsey won a state championship last season with the Canes and believes the experience will help him in college.
“Definitely the relationships built with the players and coaches is the main thing I’m taking away,” Dempsey said of the Cartersville baseball program. “I’ve built relationships over the past two years that will be with me the rest of my life. It’s something that you don’t get anyplace else but a competitive, successful baseball program like Cartersville.”
Even with one year remaining, Dempsey has already left a legacy on the Cartersville program. He won the defensive MVP award last year with just two errors and contributes off the field as well.
“He’s great in the locker room; he’s attentive; he’s the first one in there and the last one to leave,” Chester said of Dempsey’s impact. “He also brings some of the fun part of it, too.”
Chester and the Dempsey family are excited about Clifton’s commitment.
“It’s certainly a great accomplishment for him and as a parent, I’m extremely proud of him,” Clift Dempsey said. “He’s worked very hard since he was a 7-year-old to get to this point and now he has an opportunity to continue playing four more years in college. That’s what he wanted to do and he wanted to go to a school that he can play at. Maryville is a great fit for him. He loves the coaches, he loves the campus and we’re excited for him.”
“That’s a place I can live. I love that place and I think it’s an up-and-coming college,” Chester said. “You cannot beat the location. That is a beautiful place. They have a great coach. I think it is a perfect fit.”