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Countdown to First Pitch: 7 Days (Cole Leonida Blog)

Feb. 12, 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 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 from junior catcher Cole Leonida.

Who ever would have thought baseball season could look quite so similar to Christmastime! With just one week remaining until Opening Day, we were turned down at the opportunity to practice today by Ol’ Mother Nature.

Instead of a competitive nine-inning scrimmage, squaring Deck McGuire against Buck Farmer, we were relegated to the batting cages upstairs. In one cage, the hitters fine tuned their swings against Princey (assistant coach Brian Prince). In the other, a few pitchers got their work in, throwing simulated games, bullpens, flat grounds and short boxes. All things considered, we had a very productive day, despite the snow that was blanketing our field.

Its days like today that separate the good teams from the great, in my opinion. As a team, we improved today. Everyone was focused and got the most they could out of our practice. Deck threw a stellar simulated 5 innings. His line was 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 15 K. Not a bad day at the park if you ask me (The only catch: The hitters weren’t allowed to swing!). [Zach] Brewster and [Jake] Davies worked on their craftiness in short boxes. [Mark] Pope threw a marathon bullpen; my rough estimate of his pitch count is 193. At least he kept it under that universal cutoff of 200 pitches. Then, to round out the day, Cump (Brandon Cumpton) tossed a flat ground to Dickey (Thomas Nichols).

As for the hitters, Princey threw his usual 750 pitches today. Just another day at the park for our living, breathing Iron Mike. Each hitter got their usual 3 rounds of 6 pitches. Unless you are talking about J Row (Jeff Rowland), he got his usual 3 rounds of 16 pitches (Hey, gotta end on a good one, right?). But it was awesome to see everyone so focused on what they need to work on. We all have just one goal in mind, bringing a National Championship trophy back to The Flats.

We are all chomping at the bit to get the season started. Game 1 is only a week away and along with it, hopefully some good weather. However, if the weather doesn’t turn, I’m not worried, our team is becoming used to playing in the cold, wind, rain, and yes, the snow. As I said before, it’s days like today that separate good teams from great teams. Not everyone has the will and desire to work hard in spite of the weather. For anyone that has played ball, once the rain (or snow) begins to fall, it is difficult to remain focused on playing the game. The weaker player would simply shut it down for the day. We don’t have those kinds of players. We have a bunch of hard working guys that aren’t playing for themselves; they are playing for the guy next to them. That is refreshing in this era of sports but, that is what makes this team so special.

It is going to be a memorable year and we cannot wait to share it with all of you. We take our first step towards Omaha in one week. I hope to see all of you out there, at the Rusty C. Go Jackets!

-Cole Leonida


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