June 16, 2006
The last time Michael Fisher was in Omaha, he didn’t think he’d even get into the stadium. He won’t have that problem this weekend.
The Georgia Tech shortstop is making his second visit to the College World Series, as the Jackets begin play Friday against Clemson. Several years ago, Fisher and his father were in town for a high school showcase event during the series, so they went to see Miami play Texas in the series.
“The line went all around the stadium,” he recalled. “We weren’t sure we were even going to get in. It’s just a crazy environment, and it was something else. I got butterflies just thinking that someday I could be there.”
That day has arrived, and Fisher has been one of the team’s primary catalysts in the postseason. The sophomore has added some offensive punch to the bottom part of Georgia Tech’s potent lineup.
Over the past eight games, which include the ACC Tournament, the NCAA regional and the super regional, Fisher has reached safely in all those games and hit over .360 while driving in eight runs.
“You could look at baseball in general, whether it’s the World Series in Major League Baseball, the NCAA Regional or the College World Series, a lot of times it’s that guy that you’d least expect that ends up making the big play,” coach Danny Hall noted. “He’s really done that for us the last two weekends. He did it in the ACC Tournament, and he did it last weekend. He works extremely hard, so it’s not a big surprise to us.”
Fisher was actually a two-sport star at Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy. In addition to being an three-time all-state selection in baseball, he was also named Mr. Football in the state of Tennessee after quarterbacking his team to two state titles.
His father Dan played football and baseball at Vanderbilt in the early 1970’s, so the younger Fisher grew up as a Commodores fan for most of his childhood. He didn’t know much about Georgia Tech, but the school’s combination of academic and athletic prowess convinced him that coming to Atlanta was the right choice.
After earning numerous accolades in high school, Fisher admits that it was tough to adjust to a reserve role as a freshman last season. All-American Tyler Greene was a fixture at shortstop last year, so playing time for Fisher was sparse. He appeared in only 25 games, including some time at second base.
“Not only was a he a great baseball player, he was a great football player,” said Hall. “He came into a situation where he wasn’t going to play every single day, and he had probably been playing everyday since he was eight years old. That’s definitely tough.”
“At first, it was a learning experience,” added Fisher. “Tyler was one of a kind, so last year I just took the opportunity to learn as much as I could from him. He’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever been around. Also, playing second base helped me out, especially getting used to the speed of the game.”
Hall credits Greene’s guidance as one of the reasons that Fisher has seamlessly stepped into the lineup this year, starting every game.
“He’ll tell you that Tyler helped him a lot defensively,” said Hall. “Tyler spent a lot of the time talking to him and fielding ground balls everyday. That was a good educational experience.
“When you play shortstop, you’re going to get a lot of balls hit to you, so you have to make a lot of plays. It takes a guy with some stomach to handle that just because you’re in the middle of the action all the time. I think he probably felt more pressure defensively than offensively. I told him that I didn’t really care what he contributed offensively, I just wanted him to make all the routine plays defensively.”
Despite the fact Fisher has made 23 errors this season, Hall feels that he has been steadily improving in all facets of his game, and that has been especially true the last several weeks.
“I think he’s gotten better every week,” Hall stated. “He’s been playing with a lot more confidence, believing that he can do the job. He’s gotten some opportunities to hit with guys on [base], and he’s delivered.”
In the NCAA regional two weeks ago, Fisher had a sizzling Saturday. In the first game of the doubleheader, he hit his first home run of the season, a grand slam that helped Tech defeat Stetson 7-5. In the nightcap, he had a career-high three hits against Vanderbilt.
The performance earned him a spot on the regional all-tournament team, and the offensive surge even surprised those closest to him.
“When I hit the grand slam, someone told me my mom passed out,” he laughed.
Now Fisher and his teammates are turning their attention to the College World Series, aiming for their first national title.
“It’s been thrilling so far, and it’s just going to get better,” he said. “After we clinched against College of Charleston and ran out onto the field, it was an amazing feeling. Hearing that crowd sent chills up my spine. You never hear crowds that loud for college baseball. It was more like a football game.
“That was great, but we’re not satisfied by any means. We’re going to Omaha, but it’s for a reason. We’re there for the title.”