*Published on the Western Carolina Journalist*
The countdown is on for The Cats with Bats to swing back into action. The Western Carolina University baseball team is scheduled for a heavy schedule with more home series this year than in years past.
The Cats, who won the SoCon Championship in 2016, are scheduled to have 26 home games this coming season which will bring a lot of action on the weekends and some mid-week games.
The first series, however, will be in Greenville, NC against East Carolina University mid-February.
“Knowing that this spring may be my last season ever to play baseball, every day I practice and perform like it’s my last. I’m excited to see what this spring holds for our talented team and looking forward to a successful season,” said senior pitcher Corey Sikes.
The first pitch in Cullowhee will be at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20 against Morehead State and the first home series will be the following weekend, Feb. 23-25 against Canisius.
The team has had a lot of changes in the offseason including coaching and players. Two players who will not be returning that were crucial last year, Brendan Nail and Brett Pope, are both playing professional ball with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations respectively.
“We have several guys that will be filling big roles that they were not able to last season. We expect to see a lot of new guys, freshman, Zach Franklin, Mitch Rogers, Caleb Bishop and a handful of other guys who are going to contribute to the team right away,” said head coach Bobby Moranda.
The team lost a lot of the pitching staff after the conclusion of the 2017 season where the team went 15-8 in SoCon play.
Also, two-time All-American Bryson Bowman is now an assistant coach for the team. He said that it’s really cool to be able to step into a leadership role and be a role model for his former teammates. Also, the biggest difference that he has had to understand transitioning from player to coach is that everything the coaches do is for the players and trying to make them better athletes as well as people. It’s been a growing experience for him and the team.
After a full weekend of team practice and inter-squads, the team is rolling with workouts, practice, and preparation for the 2018 season; the team is hoping you are as excited as they are.