Sept. 14, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Coming off the 2013 Southern Conference regular season title - the 21st overall championship and 12th seasonal crown all-time - the Western Carolina Catamount baseball team began preparations for its defense as it opened fall practice on Friday on-campus at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
The baseball team will work through a combined 27 practices over a NCAA-regulated 45-day period, culminating with the annual intrasquad Fall World Series in mid-to-late October.
Practice started on Friday afternoon after several weeks of individual instruction which began once the Catamounts returned to campus for the fall semester. The squad will hold its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday morning prior to on-campus tailgating that precedes WCU's home and SoCon-opening football game against The Citadel. Many of WCU's newcomers and returners will hit the diamond for game-like situations with most pitchers expected to see time on the mound.
Western Carolina finished 39-20 a season ago, winning 22 of its final 27 games and earning a national ranking of 29th by Collegiate Baseball - the first ranking since 2003. The 39 victories were the most by the Catamounts under Moranda while also winning a school-record 23 victories in SoCon play including 16-straight league triumphs.
Seventh-year head coach Bobby Moranda and the Catamounts return four players that hit .300-or-better a season ago with 42 of the team's 71 home runs returning. On the mound, WCU brings back 23 of the 39 victories.
Senior Aaron Attaway headlines four returning All-Southern Conference selections from a season ago. Attaway is joined by catcher classmate Adam Martin, who is coming off a strong summer in the Northwoods League which included winning the all-star week home run derby. Junior pitcher Jeremy Null, who was a nine-game winner and second team All-SoCon selection, and All-Freshman team honoree, Jonathan Waszak complete the returning players who earned all-conference plaudits.
WCU's fall practice is scheduled to conclude in late October with the 2014 schedule set to be released around the same time.