Countdown to First Pitch: 17 Days (Jay Dantzler Blog)

Feb. 3, 2010

The Georgia Tech baseball team begins the 2010 season Friday, Feb. 19 when it opens a three-game series with Missouri State. With preseason practice underway, fans can check out RamblinWreck.com to find blogs, video interviews and Q&A’s by members of the 2010 squad about their lives as college students, what’s going on in practice, and their excitement about the upcoming season in the countdown to first pitch series.

Today’s blog is by senior outfielder Jay Dantzler.

Welcome back to “The Flats” at Russ Chandler Stadium and the 2010 version of the Yellow Jackets. It was exciting to get out on the field as a team for the first time this spring and get to work. Everyone has come into the season focused and determined to perform at the highest level possible. This team and season is very special to me for a couple of reasons: It is my last chance to wear the Georgia Tech uniform and I have built such a strong bond with all the players, coaches and fans, that I want this to be a memorable season for everyone. It’s time for us to get out on the field and “prove it.”

We had our first practice Friday and did not waste any time, jumping straight into a six inning intra-squad game. It was a rude wake up call having to hit off Deck McGuire and Kevin Jacob on the first day back, but it is a huge advantage for our hitters to be able to prepare by seeing some of the best pitching in the nation.

Saturday was cold and rainy, but Coach Hall did not let that keep us from practicing. Most of the day was devoted to defense out on the turf field behind the left field fence. We started by circling through stations consisting of individual defense, batting practice in the cage, bunting on the new machine and base running. Once we ran through the drills we went into live bunt defense and run downs.

Usually these two take us a total of twenty minutes, but Saturday it took well over an hour. It was a tough day to focus and concentrate, given that it was raining and cold, but the key is to be able to perform in any conditions. As it turns out, bunts were not getting down, the balls were slick, throws started getting wild and Coach Hall’s tolerance was tested with every mistake. We found out fast that he will not accept mental mistakes. He decided to help us focus by having us run a few fifty yard gassers, a couple laps around the field and giving us some strong words of encouragement. I felt that after that practice we all realized the intensity and dedication to the little things it is going to take for us to win a national championship. The tone was set, and it has stayed that way for the last couple of days.

Blue skies came out for us on Sunday and we were able to play a nine inning game. We were off on Monday and came back Tuesday with a little rest to jump into live batting practice. It helps us focus on situational hitting execution at the plate. We bunt, hit and run, advanced runners over from second and advanced runners in from third. So far, we have had a huge focus on the mental aspects of the game and I believe that it will pay off for us throughout the course of the season. It is these practices and drills that will help us win close games in the ACC and go deep into the NCAA playoffs.

I have been very encouraged so far at the progress we have made in the few days of practice, but most importantly the dedication to winning that each individual is bringing to the table this year. Everyone is putting personal goals behind them and focusing on the things that we want to accomplish as a team. I am excited for this season and want to thank all the fans and parents for keeping up with us, and the only thing I ask is that you support us stronger than ever this year. We have some of the best fans in the ACC and I want you all to be there with us when we dog-pile in Omaha!

Go Jackets!

-Jay

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