Jan. 19, 2006
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina head baseball coach Todd Raleigh has said that there are high expectations for his team for the 2006 season. To heighten and reinforce those expectations, the Catamount coaching staff, along with WCU fields turf manager Kenny Pauley, completely refurbished the baseball locker room with new lockers, entertainment center and floor.
Over a week's time frame, Coach Raleigh and crew did all the work themselves, which included taking down the old lockers, tearing up the old carpet, laying the new hardwood floor and buying the materials to hand-make the new lockers.
"This is not something we even thought about doing 25 days ago," said head coach Todd Raleigh. "We have done some little things here and there in the past to our locker room to try and improve it, but it remained an eye sore. Over Christmas, we were thinking of what else cold be done. Then, I and my coaches just said, `Let's just do this.' We told (athletics director) Chip Smith and (senior associate AD) Fred Cantler what we wanted to do and they agreed to let us as long as we raised the money. An anonymous donor came through with the $3,000 and we took over from there. I am appreciative to that donor and of my coaches and Kenny (Pauley) for their work. Our new locker room can now be a source of pride and definitely help recruiting."
With a new sense of pride and enthusiasm, the Catamount baseball team began practice for the 2006 on Jan. 15 in preparation for its season and home opener on Feb. 18 vs. Butler. For the complete schedule, visit: 2006 WCU Baseball Schedule
"Practice is going well so far," Raleigh said. "The kids came back in the best shape since I have been here. Nothing sours you more as a coach than when you work hard in the off season and the kids come back from break not ready to start the season. That really puts you behind the eight ball.
"We are as healthy as we have been in three years and ready to start. Our only two injuries (Caleb McConnell from last spring and Trey McDaniel from the off-season) are progressing well and should not be too far behind. I am real excited right now, but it is still early. Expectations are the highest they have been in a while, but I like our team chemistry and makeup."
Western Carolina will be led in 2006 by last year's Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and ABCA All-Region pick Steven Strausbaugh. The Venice, Fla., native batted .367 last season with 12 home runs and 51 RBI. Also, senior shortstop Tim Hallam (.282 and 10 doubles) will lead an infield which will feature a new second and third baseman. Former left fielder and catcher Jonathan Greene, who batted .316 in his rookie campaign last season, will fill the void at third. In addition to Hallam, securing the middle of the field for Western will be sophomore catcher Blake Murphy, who played in the prestigious Cape Cod baseball league this past summer, and the Cats' second-leading hitter, sophomore Barrett Shaft with his .341 batting average, in center field. McDaniel, who had off-season shoulder surgery, will also return for his junior season and could play first base, outfield or designated hitter.
On the mound, senior and recent WCU graduate Brian McCullen will lead the way. He has been the Cats' leader in wins in each of the last two years, including a 7-3 record last season. McConnell should be back after having elbow surgery this past spring. Prior to his injury, the Waynesville senior had 53 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 57 innings pitched.
Photo Gallery of the Baseball Locker Room Construction