Jan. 26, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Delayed one day by the wintry mix that fell across parts of Western North Carolina on Friday, the Western Carolina Catamount baseball team opened preparations for the 2013 season at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium on Saturday afternoon with the first official team practice.
Under ideal weather conditions for late January, the Catamounts spent the majority of Saturday's practice in skill work, reviewing team defensive principles and situations, bunt defense as well as pitcher fielding practice. The squad also took batting practice on the field for the first time this preseason.
Friday was the first available day for collegiate baseball teams to hit the diamond for the 2013 season as mandated by the NCAA.
"I have been very impressed with our team's level of commitment through the off-season, and their work ethic through individuals and today's first team practice," said WCU head coach Bobby Moranda. "Practice went smoothly today as our returning players know our routine and know what we're looking for out of our sessions."
Coming off a 32-24 season a year ago including a 16-14 mark in Southern Conference play, Western Carolina has been conducting strength and conditioning since the end of fall practice last November. Since returning to campus in early January, the team has been lifting three days a week with 6:30 am conditioning sessions on both Tuesday and Thursdays.
At the conclusion of fall practice in December, four players including three seniors were selected as team captains by the players. Right-handed relief pitcher Preston Hatcher, left-handed starting pitcher Morgan McKinney and infielder Tyler White were the three seniors with junior outfielder Cody Jones representing the lone underclassman tabbed as a team captain.
WCU and Moranda plan to hold the first of seven preseason intrasquad games on Sunday afternoon with first pitch at 1:00 pm. The Catamount skipper indicated that a lot of pitchers will take the hill with the hitters seeing live pitching for only the second time this January.
"Sunday should be interesting to see our guys in live situations against our pitching staff," Moranda said.
Western Carolina opens the 2013 season by hosting four-straight home games against a pair of teams from the PAC-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference. The Catamounts welcome the Washington State Cougars to Cullowhee for the first of a three-game series on Friday, Feb. 15, with subsequent games following on Saturday and Sunday. The following Tuesday (Feb. 19), Wake Forest out of the ACC comes to town for the front-end of a seasonal home-and-home.