Oct. 13, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. - After opening in late September, the Western Carolina Catamount baseball team continued through its off-season practices on a breezy Wednesday afternoon at a damp Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. As of Wednesday's practice, the Catamounts have worked through 12 of the 28 available fall dates within a 45-day window as mandated by NCAA regulations.
In early September, the Catamounts began individual instruction in small, specialized groups working with a member of the WCU coaching staff. On September 27, the team came together for its first practice looking ahead to the 2012 season. Fall practices have included early-morning weight lifting and conditioning sessions with position and batting cage work all culminating with intra-squad scenarios and scrimmages.
"The fall is going well," said WCU head coach Bobby Moranda, who is entering his fifth season in Cullowhee. "We have a lot of guys back from last season, and a good influx of new additions that look like they will be able to contribute right away."
Moranda added, "The guys are working hard, trying to improve in every aspect of the game both as individuals and as a team."
In addition to his head coaching duties this fall, Moranda - who was the pitching coach at Georgia Tech prior to taking the skipper position at WCU - has been working with the Catamount hurlers. Assistant coach Alan Beck - in his sixth season overall at WCU - and returning volunteer coach Bruce Johnson have worked mostly with the position players and hitters.
As a part of its fall training regimen, WCU travels to Knoxville, Tenn., for an inter-squad scrimmage with the Volunteers and first-year head coach Dave Serrano on Friday (Oct. 14) evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium with first pitch at 5:00 pm. Friday's scrimmage will include a nine-inning game, as well as several situation scenarios to total around 12-to-13 innings of play.
Admission at Nelson Stadium is free with limited concessions available. Parking is available for free in the C-1 lot behind the right-field wall or in G-5/30 on top of the parking garage on Lake Loudoun Blvd. Gates to the stadium will open at 3:00 pm for fans to watch batting practice.
Scrimmages in the fall against another team in collegiate baseball is not a new idea; but is a growing returning trend since the NCAA took away the fall games several years ago. With WCU facing Tennessee in the fall scrimmage, the Catamounts will have one fewer scheduled games in the spring, dropping the schedule from 56 allotted games to 55.
"Playing at Tennessee will allow us to see our players against a different opponent in live action scenarios. It will be good to face another opponent to see where we are right now," said Moranda. "Also, with us being on fall break, it is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of this trip without missing any class."
Moranda stated that he plans on throwing numerous pitchers and batting all of his players during the scrimmage.
Western Carolina's fall practice sessions are on pace to conclude by the first of November with the 2012 schedule set to be released around the same time.