Spring Trip Summary and Observations

We finished our Spring Trip on a high note with a hard-fought 8-7 win over Tiffin University to end the week at 4-5, and 6-6 overall.  The record at this point is disappointing for sure, but the talent is still here and we are getting better at the plate with each game.  It wont be long before the engine is firing on all cylinders.  The individual approaches are normalizing and becoming more consistent, and the hitters are getting more adept at making minor in-game adjustments to increase their competitive results.  The key to our future success is finding the proper balance between being selective and being aggressive.  Each has its place in an overall approach, but neither is mutually exclusive, meaning that from pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat the sliding scale between being passive and aggressive must be moved and evaluated.  Once we get a handle on this, we will be a very good hitting team. Continue reading

South Carolina Tops Latest NCBWA DI Poll

South Carolina has joined Cal State Fullerton (preseason No. 1), Oregon State (Feb. 17) and Virginia (Feb. 24-March 3) as schools holding down the No. 1 positions in the first five 2014 surveys. Last season only five teams were No. 1 during the entire January-June NCBWA compilations. The poll voters come from 44 college baseball writers and related media persons from throughout the nation.

NCBWA DIVISION I POLL (MARCH 10)
Rk. School Conference Record Week Pvs.
1. South Carolina Southeastern 15-0 5-0 3
2. Florida State Atlantic Coast 12-2 4-1 2
3. Virginia Atlantic Coast 11-3 2-1 1
4. Oregon State Pacific-12 14-3 5-0 5
5. Vanderbilt Southeastern 15-2 5-0 6 Continue reading

Spartans Streak Continues, Tampa Remains DII’s Top Team

Rank(Last Week) Team / Comment
1(1) Tampa SpartansTampa (19-1) swept St. Leo in this past week’s marquee matchup, twice rallying to win in the final inning. UT also had a win over Seton Hill. Can Bridgeport or Rollins stop the Spartan Express this week? Probably not.
2(2) Minnesota State MavericksThe Mavs (9-2) are in the middle of their Spring Trip in Florida. So far they’ve gone 4-1 with wins over Findlay, Saginaw Valley and Northwood; their loss was against Ashland. BIG game against GVSU tomorrow.
3(3) Lander BearcatsThe Bearcats (19-3) had a nice midweek win over Mount Olive and took two of three from Francis Marion to hold on to the three spot for another week. Lander plays Newberry and GRU Augusta this week.
4(4) West Florida ArgonautsThe Argos’ (16-2) have a twelve game winning streak going after sweeping three from Union in which UWF pitchers only allowed three runs. UWF plays Alabama-Huntsville in this week’s showdown series. Look out for Jordan DeLorenzo. Putting up macho numbers: 5-0 with 0.96 ERA.
5(5) Southern Arkansas MuleridersMuleriders (19-4) remained hot with a midweek win over suddenly slumping Arkansas Monticello and a sweep of Henderson State. SAU plays Delta State and Harding this week. Continue reading

Off Day – Various Thoughts and Observations

• After being handled by Grand Valley State the last two games, I must say that up and down the lineup they are one of the very best college baseball teams that I have seen, OUTSIDE of DI.  Their hitters don’t get cheated.  Not one bit.  They are excellent defensively in many areas and more than adequate overall.  On the mound, the Lakers have some velocity and they compete well pitch to pitch.  That being said, the 1927 Yankees are dead.  Long dead. GVSU caught us at a good time and they outplayed us.  When the regional rolls around I’m sure we will cross paths again with Mr. Brugnoni and company.

• Eating team meals at an Applebee’s, or a TGI Friday’s, or some such establishment is infinitely preferable to the pizza/sub sandwich route, both from a meal quality and camaraderie standpoint.

• I think most coaches, on occasion, ask themselves why they do what they do.  The hours are long, the pay is not ideal, and there is little gratitude nor appreciation for the job that we do.  Two things come to mind, personally, when I consider why I continue to coach college baseball: Continue reading

Tino Award Watch Spotlight: Montevallo’s Jackson Slaid

If you’ve seen one of the “Faces of Meth” posters which demonstrate the effects of methamphetamine on its users, then you have a good idea of what baseball look like after Montevallo’s Jackson Slaid has taken batting practice. The Falcons’ senior catcher has been absolutely blistering baseball this season, crushing eight pitches for homeruns in the first month of the season. Continue reading

If You Only Had One Shot

SandersonAtBat
It is finally the moment you have been waiting for all season. The entire dugout is fixated on your every move to see if you can pull off this miracle. You dig into the batter’s box and stare down the pitcher while every single one of your brain cells is focused on one thing: hitting the beautifully white pearl baseball a country mile.

As the pitcher starts his wind up your eyes grow bigger as each ounce of sweat trickles down your face while you think, “I’ve been waiting for this my whole career….”

One defining moment can make or break one’s college career. I can only hope this past weekend was not my defying moment, but I think it’s worth sharing anyways. Although my pressure packed situation during the fourth game of a four game weekend had me feeling all the nerve racking thoughts I’ve mentioned above; there is one major difference between the average position player and myself. I’m a pitcher.

Leisure time on the St. Cloud State pitching staff is usually dominated by one main topic: what we would do if we finally got an at bat in a game. Trash talking is common as well as the critiquing of swings that really aren’t worthy of such assessments.

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to silence the critics and take one deep. The odds were forever not in my favor as my homerun history consists of one “duck fart” over a shallow right field fence in high school (time to close the year book).

Last weekend the Huskies took a comfortable lead over our opponents and as many seniors do, I began to plead head coach Pat Dolan for me to get an at bat. He gave me the nod along with a smirk that a five year old could have detected meant, “I can’t wait to see this.”

During the very rare occasion our pitchers get to hit during batting practice each swing is a piece of artwork. Well, the swing isn’t exactly the artwork. The artwork is what comes after the swing, commonly referred to as, “the pimp job.” For those of you who do not recognize the term “pimp job,” it is the over blown, proud reaction of a hitter after he hits a homerun that he would like to admire.

As a realist, I decided I probably wasn’t going to take one deep in an actual game. But, it was not out of the realm of possibilities for me to blast one to the warning track. I stared down that 2-1 fastball right down Broadway and did what every great homerun hitter does: I dropped my back shoulder, closed my eyes, and swung the bat so hard it would make my dad’s back ache.

Before I knew it, the ball was half way to the moon… if the wind weren’t howling in from right field at a GUSTING 5 mph. After months of mental preparation for my big chance at the plate, I had to settle for a pedestrian F-9 and face my fellow pitchers who looked at me with utter disappointment.

Quite possibly my last at bat as a collegiate player… and I blew it. For two months the pitchers on our staff debated on who would be the pitcher to get the first hit of the season and it would have been my Disney Land fairy tale if it would’ve been me.

So, the coveted award of the first pitcher to get a hit is still in tact at St. Cloud State. Until one of us finally comes through with a clean hit, trash talking will keep on and “pimp jobs” will continue to be rehearsed.

- Scott Sanderson
@scottie_111