On the Bump – January 28, 2013

Hello Gents’ fans and welcome back to “On the Bump”. We are 12 days away from Opening Day and the atmosphere around the locker room and the field is extremely unique. You can feel that everyone understands the season is so close and all of the hard work we have been putting in since August will start to pay dividends soon. This week I will talk to you about our week of preparation, talk about our expectations as a team, and introduce you to our outfielders.

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and as a result we had the day off from school. Due to the holiday, we were able to get out to the field early and have a 10 AM practice. It’s really nice to have an early practice because it allows us to get our work in early and we can use the rest of the day to take care of our schoolwork. Monday is also traditionally our pitchers’ long toss day. I love long tossing because it allows us to lengthen out our arms and air it out.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday’s practices all went really smooth and I continued to be impressed by the quality level of play our defense displayed. I believe this can be attributed to our team chemistry and the fact that we have so many returning players. In the past, we have been plugging new guys into our system each year. We have a solid core of returners this season, and I believe this is the key reason that our bunt defense, PFP’s, and cuts and relays system have looked so crisp this early in the pre-season.

Rather than detail the intricacies of these practices, I will walk you through my Tuesday and Wednesday step-by-step to give you an idea of what a day in the life of a student-athlete is like.

I woke up at 7:15 AM on Tuesday. I have class at 8:15, 9:45, and 11:00 on Tuesday, which definitely has its pros and cons. My 8:15 class is “The Evolution of Economic Thought”, which is taught by Dr. David Hoaas, a great Centenary professor that has served the school for 26 years. I also have that class with fellow baseball teammates Ryan Stevens and Erasmo “Mo” Valdez. My 9:45 class was “Intermediate Macroeconomics” with Dr. Harold Christensen and he greeted us with a pop quiz over our assigned readings in the Wall Street Journal. At 11:00, I had “Senior Seminar” with the Dean of the Frost School of Business, Dr. Chris Martin. At 12:00, I went over to the weight room in the Gold Dome to get a workout in with my teammates. After that, I returned back to my apartment in Bossier City and made a quick lunch while finalizing a few graduate school applications. I am hoping to earn a Master’s in Accounting after I graduate from Centenary with degrees in Accounting and Business Administration this spring. I returned back to school around 2:30 and got prepared for our 3:45 practice. Practice wrapped up around 6:30 and from there I was able to grab some dinner and then head back to the apartment to finish up some homework for the night.

On Wednesday I have class at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, and 1:00, so that’s another jam-packed day. At 9:00, I have “Advanced Accounting” with Dr. Barbara Davis. It is a really tough class but it will definitely prepare me for a future in the real world. At 10:00, I have “Career Strategies”, where we learn how to prepare for job interviews and for the rapidly approaching life after college. Fellow pitcher Jake McFarland is in this class with me as well. At 11:00, I have “Income Tax Accounting Part II” with Dr. Helen Sikes. It is another tough class, but it also provides me with great knowledge that will be useful later in life. In this class, we learn to prepare tax returns for corporations and businesses. My teammate, Greg Monnette Jr., whom you met last week, is in that class with me as well. At 12:00, I had an hour to go grab lunch with my roommate, Tyler Clakley, who you will meet later in this blog. I returned to campus at 1:00 for another “Senior Seminar” class with Dr. Martin. After class, I went over to the baseball field to chill before practice at 3:45. We got out of practice around 6:30 and then I returned home to start the process over again.

As you can see, it takes a lot of work to be a student-athlete. I don’t think people realize how much we are constantly on the go, and if we aren’t on the go we are likely working on something for school or athletics. It takes dedication, effort, discipline, and time management skills to be a well-rounded student-athlete. I firmly believe that if you can successfully balance your life as a student-athlete you will be prepared for nearly any situation thrown your way later in life.

We scrimmaged on Saturday and we played well again. It is really encouraging to see the way we have approached the game since returning from Christmas break. Our guys are competitors and everyone is battling for a position, whether it is to keep a starting spot or take someone’s job. You can’t really teach the “hunger” and “want” factors on a baseball team. But it is definitely an intangible that our team possesses and it will benefit our team down the stretch this season because every player on our roster knows they can contribute in some aspect. The most positive aspect from the scrimmage was that our pitchers relentlessly pounded the strike zone and our defense made plays. If you can pitch and play defense, your team will always be in the game. I tried to ask our assistant Coach Pat Jolley for his opinion on the scrimmage but he was unavailable for comment.

Our team has pretty high expectations and standards heading into this season. We return a lot of talent and our coaches did a great job of bringing in freshmen and transfers that can contribute immediately. Our conference, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) has five schools that sponsor baseball – Austin College, University of Dallas, Southwestern, Trinity, and us. We have not played any of these teams except Trinity during my time at Centenary, but I can assure you that the competition will be tough. Trinity debuted at #11 in the D3baseball.com national poll. Austin College, University of Dallas, and Southwestern will also be formidable opponents and I believe it will be a battle each weekend in conference. Being a senior, I want nothing more than to win a conference championship this year. I believe our team has the talent to do it, but we just need to prove that we are capable of playing at that level on a consistent basis. I believe the SCAC pre-season Coaches’ poll will come out this week. It will be interesting to see what the pre-season consensus is, but we will not read into it. I could care less if we are voted pre-season #1 or #5 in conference; I care about where we finish the last week of April when it counts.

Now I will introduce you to our 2012-2013 Centenary Gents’ outfielders. Senior Tyler Clakley, my roommate, returns as our right fielder. Tyler had a great year for us last season at the plate and in the field and I expect that to continue this spring. He will be a staple in the middle of our lineup and he will also bring valuable experience and leadership to the outfield. Nic Parrott is a junior outfielder from Atlanta, Texas and he has played really well this pre-season. Nic is a “gamer” and he plays the game the right way. I can promise you if Nic thinks he has a chance to catch the ball, he will be laying out to make the diving catch. Christian Sebastien is a sophomore outfielder that has really emerged this off-season as a solid option for us. “C-Bass” has really improved at the plate and has worked exceptionally hard to earn his role on the team. Timmy Chhor and Kennen Cobb are sophomore outfielders that return to fill several roles for our team. Timmy is extremely versatile and capable of playing nearly anywhere on the field. Cobb is a solid outfielder; he is an extremely hard worker who will definitely contribute to the team this spring in several different ways.

Our new freshmen in the outfield are Andre McKendall, Adam Van DenLangenberg, Kiefer Moore, and Devin Bench. Andre is an extremely fast kid and he has great potential. He has improved each day and he has swung the bat really well since we returned from Christmas break. Adam Van DenLangenberg is another great player that we were able to bring in. He is a hard-worker and he will be able to do some big things for us this season. Kiefer Moore is another “gamer” and he plays the game so hard. You can always count on Kiefer to battle at the plate and make things happen. Devin Bench brings several key tools to the outfield for us. Bench has a plus arm and brings some speed to the table as well.

Thank you for stopping by to read the blog this week and I apologize for the lack of brevity. This was one of my favorite blogs I have written though. The time is ticking on my senior year so you start to appreciate all of the little things and moments a little more than in the past three years.

Next week I will introduce you to our pitching staff and fill you in on our week of practice as we prepare to take on ETBU, Louisiana College, and Willamette in McKinney, Texas in less than two weeks. Go Gents!

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