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NOTE: Taylor Sandefur's blog today is the first of our Taylor vs. Taylor segment this spring as we will have dueling blogs with Sandefur and softball's Taylor Sigmon. This should be fun. Sigmon's blog is scheduled to post Thursday night.

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Why, hello there Catamount Baseball lovers. Taylor Sandefur from your WCU baseball team here.

At the time I write this, we are just three days away from Friday - also known as Opening Day. "Fortress Cullowhee" will be in full effect. I am going to update you on how things are going with the baseball team and what we have been up to since last Wednesday.

On Thursday, Jan. 31st, we had weights at 7:30 am. Four of us, myself included, had class at 8:00 am, so we had to do our weight lifting after we got out of class. Later on we had a 30-minute practice and it was all defensive work. We were saving our hours up for the weekend intrasquads. It was similar to our individual work where the outfielders went off and did their fly ball communication and worked on getting reads of the bat while the catchers, infielders, and pitchers did our defensive work together.

Friday, we started the day off right getting strong in the weight room. In an unofficial poll that I did - with no scientific research and or surveys to back up this information - I found out that we are the strongest team in the country. We had practice at 2:45 that afternoon. We started with our team stretch, got loose, did our team defense, pick plays, first and thirds, bunt defense, and then took batting practice. During "BP," some of the pitchers got bullpens in and long toss to prepare for the upcoming weekend.

The weekend that was suppose to be full of us playing got interesting quick. We did our pre-game in-and-out and started playing. Sophomore Jeremy Null and junior Jordan Smith took the ball first. They were looking good out of the gate. I remember vividly: I was sitting in the dugout attempting to stay warm while doing my duty of foul ball manager - which consists of telling people to go get the foul balls while I sat by the heater - and looked over at one of my teammates, also known as Jonathan "the Flamingo" Nadale. I said, "Flamingo, is that snow?"

 He replied with, "I'm from California, ask someone else."

Sure enough, it was snow. It began coming down pretty hard and before you know it, we had to end practice because we couldn't see the ball. Believe it or not, a white ball in white snow is pretty tough to see. Sunday also was a wash because of the lovely blanket of snow that we received from Mother Nature.

Monday (Feb. 4) we hit the weight room as usual at 7:30 am. We had practice that afternoon. We got out to the field on our own, stretched and prepared for an upcoming intrasquad on our own. We had in-and-out at 4:15 pm and first pitch was at 4:30. As expected, we looked tremendous. A few standouts for me were Nadale and sophomore Tyler Powell on the bump. They had all their pitches working and filled up the zone getting guys out. From the offensive side, senior Tyler White hit a homerun which is impossible to defend; redshirt freshman Austin Neary hit the ball hard and collected a few knocks as usual; and junior Luke Gragg got a couple of hits, too.

Tuesday (Feb. 5) was similar to Monday. We stretched and threw, had a little meeting and had a situational intrasquad. Senior Preston Hatcher and I started the intrasquad, throwing an inning apiece. Transfer John McClure and sophomore William Frazier took the mound after us and threw two innings. Mound work continued with freshmen Jonathan Waszak and Thomas Young taking the ball last and throwing three innings.

The biggest thing that stuck out from Tuesday's intrasquad was that Waszak had a huge strikeout. He punched out Luke Gragg to end his unbelievable streak of 111 at bats through the fall and spring practices without a strikeout... Luke is an absolute stud. Reece Strong had a great day with a two RBI single and a double to center. Junior left-hander Dykota Spiess also hit the ball sound, too.

 Wednesday (Feb. 6) and Thursday (Feb. 7) consisted of normal practice days. We sharpened our skills defensively as a unit, hitters worked on their swings and we pitchers continued to strive to perfect our craft.

 Friday (Feb. 8) was scheduled to be another intrasquad day, but because of rain, we did field work to prepare the field to play on Saturday and Sunday. Post field work, we went out to the football field and did our defensive work as a team, our pick plays, run downs, first and third plays and bunt defense. We work hard on our defensive play because pitching and defense win championships... and three-run jacks don't hurt.

 Saturday (Feb. 9) and Sunday (Feb. 10) were intrasquad days. Jordan Smith, Powell, Hunter Brister and Hatcher threw the ball extremely well on Saturday. On Sunday, Morgan McKinney, Adam Curtis, and I continued that theme by pitching well.

 After I got done throwing on a cold Sunday afternoon, the sky opened up and we had to tarp the field and call it a day. Rain can really put a damper on your day (Get it? Rain...damper...). White hit really well this weekend, collecting two homeruns on Sunday. Sophomore Dale Urquhart hit a homerun as well and had four quality at bats.

 That's it for this week and don't forget, FRIDAY IS OPENING DAY. Come out; subscribe to watch the video online (Catamount All-Access - FREE PLUG); whatever you have to do to support your Catamounts!

 

Attention to all the Catamount baseball fans:

 

Taylor.jpgI, Taylor Kirkwood Sandefur, am back on my blogging game. I know it has been a while and y'all are probably dying to hear what has been going on with the Catamount baseball team.

 

First things first, I am going to tell you what I have been up to because that's why everyone reads my blogs...right?

 

Since my last blog, I have become a master of carpentry. I constructed a coffee table for the living room in my apartment and needless to say, it's the best quality this side of the Mississippi. I also have perfected the art of the jazz flute, and became a certified magician. Houdini who?

 

Now, let me inform you what the team has been doing since my last blog.

 

Team fall practice came to a close and we broke off into our small group segment. During this time, us pitchers - also known as the best athletes on the field - would go in four different groups and we would get our work in. We would long toss, throw flat ground, bullpens, work on our defense and go over our overall pitching system.

 

The hitters broke into groups based on the position they play in the field and they would go hit and do hitter/position player related activities. I never know what they do out there. They are swinging bats and all kinds of wild stuff.

 

Aside from working on perfecting our craft, we hit the weight room hard. Exam week arrived, we took our exams, and off to Christmas break we went. Over the break, our former strength coaches gave us a packet with all of the lifting and running we were suppose to accomplish while we were gone. Everyone seemed to have put in a good amount of work while they were away.

 

We have been back for a few weeks now. When we first got back to school, we resumed work in our small groups phase preparing for the season.

 

A small side note that relates to the season, I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEASON. It has been entirely to long (536 days, or 1 year, 5 months, and 17 days, or 46,310,400 seconds) since I put on a uniform and pitched against someone other than my own teammates.

 

Back to the team, we were lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday and conditioning Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our team works incredibly hard.

 

Now you are up to date with a summary of the past couple of months. Currently, we are in our team practice phase. Team practice is exciting. We are wearing baseball pants and are out there as a team; guys are diving, getting dirty, hitting bombs, and throwing cheese - all the good stuff that comes with a baseball game.

 

Our first official day of team practice got scratched due to bad weather. Instead, we started on Saturday, January 26th. The first practice was a refresher day. We touched on pick plays, first and thirds, bunt defenses and a great deal more. We split up and did individual defense as well. We, the pitchers, did our cords and participated in our throwing drills and had a light day of throwing. The infielders took groundballs and the outfielders caught fly balls. Subsequent to that, we took batting practice and we were off - a quality refresher day to get us back in the swing of things.

 

Sunday, January 27: we showed up to the field, stretched, threw, took infield and outfield and had an intrasquad scrimmage. Pitchers Jeremy Null, Jordan Smith and Danny Schneider looked really good on the mound. Freshman Reece Strong was protecting the culture and got hit by the pitch three times ... we don't move.

 

Senior Tyler White looked good at the plate delivering a big fly to left as well as Bryant "Boomer" Noteboom coming threw with a towering homerun. Intrasquads are always bitter sweet, but as a team, we looked excellent. We had a lot of energy and everyone was playing hard.

 

Monday morning rolls around and the Cats are in the weight room getting after it at 7:30 am. We got a high-quality lift in; some guys had to go to class and learn while Null, White, and myself enjoyed a nice nap because we don't have class on Monday's - just practice at 3:45 pm.

 

We met in the locker room and observed video from Sunday's intrasquad. There are always first-rate teaching points when watching video review. Once we polished off video review, we were in route to the field. We did our normal pre practice warm up and went straight into cuts and relays, combined with backing up the bases. Once coach felt we had a good grasp on cuts and relays, we moved into batting practice. We got to watch some bombs leave the yard, which is always a exhilarating. Post batting practice, we did fly ball communication and reviewed our priorities on the field and hit the showers.

 

Tuesday was another intrasquad day. As I write this on Wednesday, it has been pouring rain here all day and it's our off day... so it's a good thing that we got our intrasquad in on Tuesday.

 

Before starting the game, we did individual defense so our position players could get some more reps, we took infield and outfield, and then we played. Everyone threw in the game, just like on Sunday's game. Null and Smith started the game. Sophomore Tyler Powell, freshman Alex Barr, and senior Preston Hatcher were the three guys that stood out the most for me on the pitching side. On the position player side, Dykota Speiss hit an absolute missile of a homerun to right center field and Jacob Hoyle bounced a foul ball off of Highway 107 and later hit a homerun in the game.

 

Well, that's all for now. I hope y'all can hold out until my next blog. I would hate it if anyone started having withdraws or getting hives because they cant read my literary magic.