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Hey Catamount fans,

SigmonBlog.jpgI hope all of you have been doing well. It has been two weeks since my last post, so let me get you guys updated on what's been happening with Catamount softball.

We have been playing some tough competition getting ready for the conference season. After traveling to both Charlotte and Coastal Carolina, the past two weekends, we have officially finished the tournament portion of our season. The teams we have been competing against have all been solid, and even though we have been in a little bit of a slump lately, record wise, I feel like we are now on the right track to have a successful conference season. We have taken the losses we have experienced the last couple weeks, fixed what we needed to, and improved overall as a team.

Even though we have had a difficult time getting the weather to cooperate this week for practice, we had a good workout in Reid Gym yesterday. We are working hard to get refocused, not only physically, but mentally as well. Coach [Jim] Clift has been going through new breathing and visualization work with the team. We have the physical stuff down, now if we can just improve the mental side of our game I feel like we will be finding ourselves winning more games than losing.

We were able to get back out on the field today, and I felt great about every part of our practice. Everyone was going all out the whole time giving 100 percent, and we are starting to look sharper both defensively and offensively. I am so excited to see what we are going to be able to accomplish this weekend and the rest of the season.

The Catamount softball team will be hosting App this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.. The first game Saturday will also be an athletes backing athletes game so I'm sure it will be an exciting environment, and we want everyone to be a part of it. We are planning on having some new games, activities, and prizes coming up soon for our loudest fans, so please come out and support us as we start up our conference season this weekend. I have also heard that we are supposed to be getting some beautiful weather Saturday, and what better way to enjoy it than supporting your Cats!? In the words of one of our captains, Amber Steinhart, "the Catamount softball team is ready to beat that APP," and you won't want to miss it!

Until next time...GO CATS! Thanks and God Bless!

 --Taylor Sigmon #15

Taylor Sigmon's entry in the Taylor vs. Taylor dueling blogs. Baseball's Taylor Sandefur's blog posted earlier in the week. As a note, Sigmon wrote this blog prior to the first day of the Lipton Florida Invitational which began Feb. 15.

Hello again Catamount Fans,

SigmonBlog.jpgI am currently on the bus headed to Florida with the team. We're getting ready for some warmer weather, our second tournament of the season, and an experience I'm sure all of us are excited to have. We were very eager about the fact that we are getting close to Longhorn Steakhouse for some food and a break from riding on the bus. This weekend should be full of great competition, and I can't wait to see how our team is going to continue to improve over the next few days.

Last weekend, after we all got over those first game jitters, we opened the season going 2-2 at USC Upstate. Even though we were all hoping for an unbeaten start to the season, we learned from the losses and really grew as a team. Amelia Griffin and Shemekia Scotton, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team at Upstate, lead us to two solid wins against two good teams. We are hoping to take what we learned last weekend and use it to make us better this weekend in Florida.

This weekend we will be playing UNC Wilmington, Charleston Southern, Savannah State, and The University of Florida. We had a rainy week in Cullowhee so there was a limited amount of usable field at practice the last few days. But we made the best of it, working on hitting live pitchers trying to get some more practice on what we were going to be faced with in the game. We also worked on our defensive game, as much as our soggy infield would allow, focusing on communication between the outfield and infield. Overall, I feel like I can speak for the whole team when I say that we are ready to get out of the nasty weather and to Florida for some live games.

We get to play on a big stage this weekend, and as a freshman I know I am excited to play on a field I saw on ESPN last summer. This weekend should be a fun experience and I can't wait to Florida and get the games rolling, not to mention I am ready to get off this bus. (:

Until next time...GO CATS! Thanks and God Bless!

--Taylor Sigmon #15

NOTE: Taylor Sandefur's blog today is the first of our Taylor vs. Taylor segment this spring as we will have dueling blogs with Sandefur and softball's Taylor Sigmon. This should be fun. Sigmon's blog is scheduled to post Thursday night.

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Why, hello there Catamount Baseball lovers. Taylor Sandefur from your WCU baseball team here.

At the time I write this, we are just three days away from Friday - also known as Opening Day. "Fortress Cullowhee" will be in full effect. I am going to update you on how things are going with the baseball team and what we have been up to since last Wednesday.

On Thursday, Jan. 31st, we had weights at 7:30 am. Four of us, myself included, had class at 8:00 am, so we had to do our weight lifting after we got out of class. Later on we had a 30-minute practice and it was all defensive work. We were saving our hours up for the weekend intrasquads. It was similar to our individual work where the outfielders went off and did their fly ball communication and worked on getting reads of the bat while the catchers, infielders, and pitchers did our defensive work together.

Friday, we started the day off right getting strong in the weight room. In an unofficial poll that I did - with no scientific research and or surveys to back up this information - I found out that we are the strongest team in the country. We had practice at 2:45 that afternoon. We started with our team stretch, got loose, did our team defense, pick plays, first and thirds, bunt defense, and then took batting practice. During "BP," some of the pitchers got bullpens in and long toss to prepare for the upcoming weekend.

The weekend that was suppose to be full of us playing got interesting quick. We did our pre-game in-and-out and started playing. Sophomore Jeremy Null and junior Jordan Smith took the ball first. They were looking good out of the gate. I remember vividly: I was sitting in the dugout attempting to stay warm while doing my duty of foul ball manager - which consists of telling people to go get the foul balls while I sat by the heater - and looked over at one of my teammates, also known as Jonathan "the Flamingo" Nadale. I said, "Flamingo, is that snow?"

 He replied with, "I'm from California, ask someone else."

Sure enough, it was snow. It began coming down pretty hard and before you know it, we had to end practice because we couldn't see the ball. Believe it or not, a white ball in white snow is pretty tough to see. Sunday also was a wash because of the lovely blanket of snow that we received from Mother Nature.

Monday (Feb. 4) we hit the weight room as usual at 7:30 am. We had practice that afternoon. We got out to the field on our own, stretched and prepared for an upcoming intrasquad on our own. We had in-and-out at 4:15 pm and first pitch was at 4:30. As expected, we looked tremendous. A few standouts for me were Nadale and sophomore Tyler Powell on the bump. They had all their pitches working and filled up the zone getting guys out. From the offensive side, senior Tyler White hit a homerun which is impossible to defend; redshirt freshman Austin Neary hit the ball hard and collected a few knocks as usual; and junior Luke Gragg got a couple of hits, too.

Tuesday (Feb. 5) was similar to Monday. We stretched and threw, had a little meeting and had a situational intrasquad. Senior Preston Hatcher and I started the intrasquad, throwing an inning apiece. Transfer John McClure and sophomore William Frazier took the mound after us and threw two innings. Mound work continued with freshmen Jonathan Waszak and Thomas Young taking the ball last and throwing three innings.

The biggest thing that stuck out from Tuesday's intrasquad was that Waszak had a huge strikeout. He punched out Luke Gragg to end his unbelievable streak of 111 at bats through the fall and spring practices without a strikeout... Luke is an absolute stud. Reece Strong had a great day with a two RBI single and a double to center. Junior left-hander Dykota Spiess also hit the ball sound, too.

 Wednesday (Feb. 6) and Thursday (Feb. 7) consisted of normal practice days. We sharpened our skills defensively as a unit, hitters worked on their swings and we pitchers continued to strive to perfect our craft.

 Friday (Feb. 8) was scheduled to be another intrasquad day, but because of rain, we did field work to prepare the field to play on Saturday and Sunday. Post field work, we went out to the football field and did our defensive work as a team, our pick plays, run downs, first and third plays and bunt defense. We work hard on our defensive play because pitching and defense win championships... and three-run jacks don't hurt.

 Saturday (Feb. 9) and Sunday (Feb. 10) were intrasquad days. Jordan Smith, Powell, Hunter Brister and Hatcher threw the ball extremely well on Saturday. On Sunday, Morgan McKinney, Adam Curtis, and I continued that theme by pitching well.

 After I got done throwing on a cold Sunday afternoon, the sky opened up and we had to tarp the field and call it a day. Rain can really put a damper on your day (Get it? Rain...damper...). White hit really well this weekend, collecting two homeruns on Sunday. Sophomore Dale Urquhart hit a homerun as well and had four quality at bats.

 That's it for this week and don't forget, FRIDAY IS OPENING DAY. Come out; subscribe to watch the video online (Catamount All-Access - FREE PLUG); whatever you have to do to support your Catamounts!

 

Hey Catamount Fans,

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It's Taylor Sigmon reporting from the Catamount softball team. This is my first blog, so for those of you who don't know me, I'm a freshman here at Western Carolina from the small town of Catawba, North Carolina.

I have been playing softball since I was three, and I could not be more thankful that God led me to Western Carolina. I love this school and my team more than I ever thought I would. I guess you could call me a home body because I was so nervous about coming to college and being away from my family, but this team has quickly become a family away from home for me. With that said, let me get to the part that you all are really interested in...the start of the season!

Softball season is rolling around again and I am so excited to start my first season as Catamount. I feel like I can speak for the whole team when I say we are so ready to get out of the offseason and start the season. We have worked extremely hard this fall getting up at 5:30 every morning to hit the weight room or go run, and I can't say I will miss those days much, but they have definitely made us prepared for the spring season.

Since we've been back from Christmas break we have been working hard every day at practice getting ready for game situations. We have done a lot of scrimmaging and hitting off of our pitchers (who are obviously some of the best in the Socon J)  to get us used to seeing live pitching again. We have been going hard every single day, and I don't think there has been a practice where I haven't seen one of my teammates lay out for a ball and get dirty. That shows me that everyone is just as ready as I am to make this season one of the best seasons that this school has ever seen. We have worked a lot on the small details of our game in the last few weeks as well like bunting, situations, and base running trying to work out all the kinks before game day.

Needless to say, the Catamount softball team is extremely excited to start the season. We have our first tournament this weekend at USC Upstate and I can't wait to play in an actual game against an actual team...it's been way to long. We open our conference season at home against App State on March 9th and we would really appreciate all the support we can get. So bring all your friends and come out to watch some softball because it should be a great game.

Until next time...GO CATS! Thanks and God Bless!
 

--Taylor Sigmon #15 

Attention to all the Catamount baseball fans:

 

Taylor.jpgI, Taylor Kirkwood Sandefur, am back on my blogging game. I know it has been a while and y'all are probably dying to hear what has been going on with the Catamount baseball team.

 

First things first, I am going to tell you what I have been up to because that's why everyone reads my blogs...right?

 

Since my last blog, I have become a master of carpentry. I constructed a coffee table for the living room in my apartment and needless to say, it's the best quality this side of the Mississippi. I also have perfected the art of the jazz flute, and became a certified magician. Houdini who?

 

Now, let me inform you what the team has been doing since my last blog.

 

Team fall practice came to a close and we broke off into our small group segment. During this time, us pitchers - also known as the best athletes on the field - would go in four different groups and we would get our work in. We would long toss, throw flat ground, bullpens, work on our defense and go over our overall pitching system.

 

The hitters broke into groups based on the position they play in the field and they would go hit and do hitter/position player related activities. I never know what they do out there. They are swinging bats and all kinds of wild stuff.

 

Aside from working on perfecting our craft, we hit the weight room hard. Exam week arrived, we took our exams, and off to Christmas break we went. Over the break, our former strength coaches gave us a packet with all of the lifting and running we were suppose to accomplish while we were gone. Everyone seemed to have put in a good amount of work while they were away.

 

We have been back for a few weeks now. When we first got back to school, we resumed work in our small groups phase preparing for the season.

 

A small side note that relates to the season, I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEASON. It has been entirely to long (536 days, or 1 year, 5 months, and 17 days, or 46,310,400 seconds) since I put on a uniform and pitched against someone other than my own teammates.

 

Back to the team, we were lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday and conditioning Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our team works incredibly hard.

 

Now you are up to date with a summary of the past couple of months. Currently, we are in our team practice phase. Team practice is exciting. We are wearing baseball pants and are out there as a team; guys are diving, getting dirty, hitting bombs, and throwing cheese - all the good stuff that comes with a baseball game.

 

Our first official day of team practice got scratched due to bad weather. Instead, we started on Saturday, January 26th. The first practice was a refresher day. We touched on pick plays, first and thirds, bunt defenses and a great deal more. We split up and did individual defense as well. We, the pitchers, did our cords and participated in our throwing drills and had a light day of throwing. The infielders took groundballs and the outfielders caught fly balls. Subsequent to that, we took batting practice and we were off - a quality refresher day to get us back in the swing of things.

 

Sunday, January 27: we showed up to the field, stretched, threw, took infield and outfield and had an intrasquad scrimmage. Pitchers Jeremy Null, Jordan Smith and Danny Schneider looked really good on the mound. Freshman Reece Strong was protecting the culture and got hit by the pitch three times ... we don't move.

 

Senior Tyler White looked good at the plate delivering a big fly to left as well as Bryant "Boomer" Noteboom coming threw with a towering homerun. Intrasquads are always bitter sweet, but as a team, we looked excellent. We had a lot of energy and everyone was playing hard.

 

Monday morning rolls around and the Cats are in the weight room getting after it at 7:30 am. We got a high-quality lift in; some guys had to go to class and learn while Null, White, and myself enjoyed a nice nap because we don't have class on Monday's - just practice at 3:45 pm.

 

We met in the locker room and observed video from Sunday's intrasquad. There are always first-rate teaching points when watching video review. Once we polished off video review, we were in route to the field. We did our normal pre practice warm up and went straight into cuts and relays, combined with backing up the bases. Once coach felt we had a good grasp on cuts and relays, we moved into batting practice. We got to watch some bombs leave the yard, which is always a exhilarating. Post batting practice, we did fly ball communication and reviewed our priorities on the field and hit the showers.

 

Tuesday was another intrasquad day. As I write this on Wednesday, it has been pouring rain here all day and it's our off day... so it's a good thing that we got our intrasquad in on Tuesday.

 

Before starting the game, we did individual defense so our position players could get some more reps, we took infield and outfield, and then we played. Everyone threw in the game, just like on Sunday's game. Null and Smith started the game. Sophomore Tyler Powell, freshman Alex Barr, and senior Preston Hatcher were the three guys that stood out the most for me on the pitching side. On the position player side, Dykota Speiss hit an absolute missile of a homerun to right center field and Jacob Hoyle bounced a foul ball off of Highway 107 and later hit a homerun in the game.

 

Well, that's all for now. I hope y'all can hold out until my next blog. I would hate it if anyone started having withdraws or getting hives because they cant read my literary magic.

We meet again, Catamount Baseball fans! It's Monday, so in between mixing chemicals, discovering new forms of clean energy and tackling world hunger, you will be getting your weekly update on how the baseball team is doing.

This past week was a wholesome one.  Routinely, we had Monday off. We woke up for our 7:30 am "swole sesh" - aka workouts - and it was raining. That led to us getting Tuesday off as well. That gave our mammoth muscles time to recover and grow. It is a necessity. That night, took a little time to clean the apartment; it smells of rich mahogany. I have many leather bound books as well. I'm kind of a big deal... people know me.

Anyway, we got back on our grind Wednesday, getting back out on the field. We hit a quick summary of defensive work, and then partook in a brief intra-squad scrimmage. Senior leftie Hunter Brister, transfer John McClure, sophomore Jacob Hoyle, redshirt freshman Bryce Danielson, freshman Jonathan Waszack, and sophomore Danny Schneider all spent time on the mound. The pitch calling was pretty arduous. It was intended to get guys to work on the pitches that need some work and challenge us mentally. They executed some pitches, left some over the plate that got hit, but overall, accepted the challenge and did pretty well.

Thursday morning called for another lift. We got after it as usual - by now, that shouldn't come as a surprise considering we look like we are the cast of the movie "300." It's not easy, but it's sheer dedication. Later in the day, we had practice. It was a simple session as we worked on our pick plays, bunt defense, first and third situations, took batting practice, and hit the showers - figuratively, not literally. That would be bad if we literally hit the showers. It may hurt our hands.

Friday morning, the position players got their third lift of the week in. Us pitchers got loose, ran some 100-yard sprints, and then ran to Reid Gym to get a pool work out in. The pool workouts are difficult. First off, you can't breathe under water, which makes it hard on its own. Secondly, swimming isn't easy and is physically demanding. We all parted ways, hit the classroom, and then met back at the field for an intra-squad.

We had a crisp scrimmage. The hitters hit our (as pitchers) mistakes while on the flipside of that, we got the hitters out on some good pitches. Senior leftie Jonathan Nadale, sophomore Jeremy Null and sophomore William Frazier all toed the rubber against crafty senior left-hander Adam Curtis and freshman Colton Davis. Some of the stand outs at the plate - for me, at least - were redshirt freshman Austin Neary, junior Aaron Attaway, sophomore Bradley Strong and senior Tyler White. They looked very confident in the box and were squaring balls up.

Saturday, we got after it again with another tremendous intra-squad game. We gave A+  effort which ended with coach giving us off Sunday. Quick highlights from hitters and pitchers include right-handers junior Jordan Smith, senior Preston Hatcher, and sophomore Tyler Powell. They all really grabbed the bull by the horns and showed how good they really are. The hitters included again, Neary who is having a great fall, and Hoyle who hit a home run and a back side double off the wall.

That's it for this weeks update. We have fall break coming up so be prepared for a little bit of a delay. It's going to be hard and if you go through withdraws, it's ok; it's normal. Everything will be okay, I promise.

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My name is Amber Steinhardt. I am a senior on the Western Carolina Softball team. I am from West Palm Beach, Florida and I'm studying Business Administration and Law with a minor in Economics.

We ended the season last year with not only a better record, then the year before, but also a better insight of what our team was capable of. Our coaches were proud of us, but definitely set high expectations upon our return after the summer.

In August, we welcomed seven new members to our team, six freshmen and a junior transfer. The Sunday before school started, the Athletic Department held a "Welcome Back Cook-out" which allowed all of the sports teams to get together and enjoy each others company. This was a very neat event because it showed our new staff that at WCU, we are one family.

Beginning classes was bittersweet for some and overwhelming for others. For the seniors, it would be our last fall semester, meaning we were well on our way to a countdown of graduation; How exciting!  On the other hand, juggling classes, workouts, meetings, and practices, the freshmen quickly learned how important their time and organization was.

To help everyone become more comfortable with each other, our coaches set up a team bonding trip, - white water rafting down the Nantahala. We were each categorized in to different groups based on our position on the field. With a two-hour trip in the water, we worked on skills such as, communication and working together to overcome the rapids, which resembled obstacles that we may face during the season. Overall, it was a successful trip and everybody had a great time.

Individuals started on Tuesday September 4th and lasted about two weeks. During this time, the coaches focused on working out our kinks from the summer on an individual basis, as well as, getting to know our new teammates and their strengths and weaknesses. It was a time of us to get back in to the swing of things without the pressure of participating in a full practice.

On September 17, we began our first team practice of the fall. The coaches stressed how important the upcoming two weeks were because our first game was set for the weekend of September 29th. In between those dates, we worked on basic defense and offense drills, and coming together as one on the field. Mid-week, the pitching staff threw to live batters not only to give the hitters some competition, but to see what else they needed to fine tune before we headed to the tournament. Our final day of practice was a "feel good" practice. We gained our confidence and knew in our hearts that we were ready to battle.

The last weekend in September approached quickly, and the Catamount softball team was ready to show everything they had worked on, and to prove that this year would be the true turn-around for the program.

Our overall weekend was an exciting one to say the least. We opened up the tournament with an 8-0 win against Southern Wesleyan and ended the day with a 6-2 win against Presbyterian. On Sunday, we returned again with more passion then the first day. Winning both games on Sunday, we left the tournament with happy fans, players, and coaches and gave Catamount Nation just a little taste of what to expect for our upcoming season.

Everyone played with heart and fought until the very end. I think we can all agree that we started off our fall season right by going undefeated. Unfortunately, I was a bystander this weekend due to an injury, but I mean when I say there was never a dull moment during any of the games. I couldn't be more proud and I really can't wait to get back on the field with them and put in the hard work and effort they have been giving on a daily basis.

We return to our home field on October 4th, for our fall home opener against Mars Hill at 6 and 8pm. Please come out and show your support by bleeding your purple and gold.

 Until next time, GO CATS! 

Taylor.jpg

Why hello there, loyal Catamount Baseball followers and/or lovers. Sorry for the blog entry being a day later than normal, but in order for me to keep up my image as the perfect model for a student-athlete, I have to do my work.

It's not easy being such a virtuous student, constantly striving for perfection, while doing the exact same thing on the bump. Someone has to do it. Let's get to the heart of the matter and talk about this past week for the Catamounts.

As normal, we had Monday off. Tuesday and Wednesday, we got out on the field and had a noble, crisp practice. We are still in the process of teaching our system into the new players so we insure that every day. Once we have accomplished that, we then split into pitchers and position players.

Our position players get nice and limber for the robust activities that they are about to endure. The position players' work on their defense extremely hard because defense wins championships - and that's what the Cats are all about. Also, they have to perfect their swing because three-run jilly-jacksons (also known as homeruns) win games.

We pitchers break off as a unit and do our band work to protect the rocket like arms that we possess, get loose and start perfecting our craft of slicing and dicing the opposing hitters. Our guys get out there and long toss, throw flat ground bullpens, short boxes and scripted bullpens.

A short box is a bullpen that is off the mound, but the catcher isn't 60-feet, 6-inches away. A scripted pen is a bullpen that has every pitch we have to throw and when to throw it. Coach Moranda composes these and they are designed to be very challenging so that when the season rolls around, we can dominate.

Thursday, we improved our knowledge of our system briefly as we went over our pick plays, rundowns, and first and third situations. Then we had an abbreviated game.

John McClure, Hunter Brister, Adam Curtis and Jonathan Nadale toed the rubber for the pitchers. Intra-squad games are always bittersweet. If the hitters do well, that means the pitchers didn't do so hot and vice versa. McClure - or Peter LaFluer from Average Joes Gymnasium as we like to call him - looked good but was a little erratic and had some walks. No one hit him hard and he managed to battle through it without a lot of damage done. Seniors Adam Curtis and Hunter Brister both looked good with their pinpoint control.

Jonathan Nadale had to battle in the first. His stuff looked good, but he was up in the zone. Junior infielder Aaron Attaway hit an elevated change up down the right field line while a few other guys sprinkled some singles in here and there off the other guys as well. The second inning, Nadale came out and was very distinct. He was putting his fastball where he wanted and forcing guys to swing the bat. The one pitch that stuck out was a slider that he dropped his arm angle a little and it was filthy getting a swing and miss to end his outing.

Friday was a very short, hour and fifteen minute practice. We split up right off the bat and went over our individual defense work. We came back together, did our system as a team, then "27 outs" to end the practice. Twenty-seven outs are how many outs a team has to get to win a baseball game. Considering the fact that defense wins championships, we take this to heart. Sure enough, we dominated it and got 27 outs with ZERO errors. Our fielders are such studs.  

It was time to play ball on Saturday and Sunday.

We took our pregame infield outfield first thing on Saturday and then we started the game. We were split into two teams. Team Alpha Johnson was my team, naturally, hand-picked by our assistant coach, Bruce Johnson. Team Johnson was also hand- picked by our volunteer assistant coach - and former WCU pitcher - Brandon Johnson.

The two teams were picked via draft style. They went back and forth picking players. The hitters tore it up on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Austin Neary looked really upright, as he has all fall, scorching balls all over the field. Attaway followed suit by hitting a homerun. Bryant Noteboom squared the ball up a few times, as well as Bradley Strong.

On the mound, Jacob Hoyle, Danny Schneider, William Frazier, Dillion Bray, Colton Davis and Bryce Danielson all threw. Danielson and Davis looked the sharpest in my opinion. They were throwing a bushel of low strikes and getting the hitters to swing the bat furthermore getting outs. Team Alpha Johnson pulled out the victory.

Sunday was a different story. The pitchers did a really good job of limiting the hitters to mostly singles and a few doubles hear and there. Attaway again hit a homerun - the stud. Noteboom hit a double off the left center wall that was absolutely hammered and Neary continued to swing a hot bat. Jeremy Null, Jordan Smith, Waszack, Schneider, Alex Barr, Danielson and Preston Hatcher took the mound. Overall, everyone preformed exceedingly well. It was tremendous seeing both the position players and the pitchers have good days.

We are continuing to work hard and strive for excellence to bring home a ring to Fortress Cullowhee. The Left Field Lunatics would be so proud of us. That's it for now. Check in next week to catch up on what the Catamount Baseball team is getting into.

P.S. - Shout out to Ryan Kontra, a Mechanicsville native as well, for his inspiration and motivation. 

Kyle Wilson, Men's Golfer Student-Athlete Blog:

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Western Carolina redshirt senior men's golfer Kyle Wilson recaps the Catamounts' trip to play in the St. Mary's Invitational in Seaside, Calif.

 

Blog Entry #1:

At 22, I have been fortunate enough to play college golf for the last ... million years, it feels like. In that millennium, I have had the chance to play some of the best courses against some of the best competition in Division I. To say that I am grateful for this opportunity would be a severe understatement.

 

I always dreamed of being a college golfer and felt like I worked hard to get to where I am today. The opportunity to play golf at Western Carolina and going to all of these incredible places has really been a monumental part of my life. Seeing all the intriguing landscapes and new cities makes a guy think deeply about where he wants to live and what he wants to do with his life.

 

I haven't seen much that could replace being in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2010 and seeing wild horses run free across the desert at sunset.  Or the memory of seeing a huge storm blow up from miles away on Kiawah Island that same year.

 

But I digress; in two days I will be boarding a plane to California. This will be my first trip to the true West Coast. The point of all this description is that in a time in history where so much is given and so little is appreciated, I'd be remiss if I didn't count myself as a "one per-center."

 

How often can people say they have been given the opportunity to travel with free room and board to play a sport they have dedicated their life to? It is hard for me to contain my excitement about the journey and the time I get to spend with my teammates in such an awesome place. I am sure anyone who reads this has their own personification of what California is to them, whether they have been there or not.

 

I look forward to soaking in every second of what will undoubtedly be a life changing, sensory overload of a journey.

 

Blog Entry #2:

Greetings from the left coast! Although I am a novice traveler, I definitely enjoyed the journey yesterday. I saw the inside of two new airports (haha) LAX in Los Angeles, Calif., and San Jose. It is always cool to spend a little time noticing the differences in the people, brands and designs that characterize the different regions of this great country of ours.

 

Flying into Los Angeles I got to see The Coliseum and Staples Center, and took in a little of Venice Beach on the way up the coast to San Jose. Unfortunately, today I didn't spot any celebrities - just a phenomenal Moe's and the most expensive McDonald's this North Carolinian has ever seen ($8.95 for a Big Mac meal??)

 

There was also a digital wind chime in the San Jose airport. It literally changed lighted panels on its own inside the airport to give the look of wind moving. Pretty cool stuff.

 

Also, I read the entire "Payne Stewart Story" while in the Atlanta airport and on the flight to Los Angeles. Not completely sure why I chose to grab that book as I bolted out of the apartment on Friday, but I am definitely glad I did. Payne was always my dad's favorite golfer while I was growing up and I had always known a little about him. The long and short of the book was an outside perspective on Payne's journey as a man and champion golfer. It really struck me in a few spots, just thinking about how one of the most underrated golfers of all time struggled with the same things many of the rest of us do.

 

The book ended with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that would make anyone stop and think:

 

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

 

Blog Entry #3

Well, our week in California was a success. Our team goal had been to come out here and finish fifth-or-better. Although we finished sixth overall, the team fought through adversity and we will move up in the next Golfweek/Golfstat ranking because of the quality of the eight teams we beat this week. We bested Kansas State by 17 shots.

 

It was fun to see sophomore J.T. Poston bring the Black Horse Golf Club to its knees with a 66 on Monday in the last few hours of day light. It was equally as enjoyable to shoot a hard-fought 69 in the final round and help the team (and my confidence) climb.

 

Earlier this evening we traveled up the 17 mile drive to Cypress Point, Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and finally made our way to Pebble Beach. After watching two US Opens and countless AT&T Pro Ams, it was unreal to walk out onto the course where legends have been made. It was the end of a storybook day for yours truly.

 

As a golfer, nothing feels better than breaking 70 and then visiting a famous championship venue. I think we all felt like kids in a candy store as we walked out near the 18th green of Pebble Beach. Oh, and we saw Tom Clancy at Spyglass Hill (yes, that Tom Clancy).

 

GO CATS!

 

What s Up With Samantha Episode 13

What s Up With Samantha Episode 12

Baseball's Taylor Sandefur Blog No. 1

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My name is Taylor Sandefur and I am a redshirt junior on the Western Carolina Catamount baseball team. I am from Mechanicsville, Va., and am majoring in communication. Entering this year, I am coming off of shoulder surgery and can't wait to get back out on the field after sitting out last season.

 After not being able to play last year, it hit me what my favorite thing about baseball is simply the ability to play the game. You don't realize how much something means to you until you lose it. I enjoy candle lit dinners, long walks on the beach and a good romance novel. I dabble in lots of different activities and to list them all would take you days to read.

It is the middle of September and we just had our first weekend of team practice. Leading up to that opening team practice, we have been working extremely hard to get ready for the fall. We have been running and conditioning, lifting and working on our skills individually to be as ready as possible for fall practice. We are a very dedicated group of guys and we love to play the game of baseball.

Our first weekend of team practice went extremely well. On Friday (Sept. 14), we had a good day of skills work focusing a lot on the defensive side of the ball. We introduced our new players to our system and tried to slow everything down so that they understand. At the end of practice, the hitters got to hit and the pitchers shagged some fly balls - all while staying out of the way of our stud outfielders, of course. Then we packed it in on a good first day and ready for the intrasquad scrimmages to start.

On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, we got to play. We hit some defensive notes really quick and took infield outfield practice before we dividing up and playing the game. All of our senior and junior pitchers threw on Saturday with the exception of myself so that I could have an extra day of rest to get ready.

Our older guys looked good; we did a good job of throwing strikes and keeping the hitters off balance. Sunday, the sophomores and freshman got to throw. The big surprise was how well our freshman pitchers did. They also filled up the strike zone and made the other guys swing the bat.

While the pitchers did a good job as a whole, so did the hitters. Most of our hitters haven't seen live pitching since this summer which makes it really hard to just jump back in the box and start hitting again. But overall, our hitters did just fine. We had two guys hit home runs.

Overall, the intrasquad games were good for both sides.

Collectively as a team, we are going to put in a good week of work for this up coming week and keep working hard to bring home a championship to "Fortress Cullowhee," as dubbed by our loyal fan group on the hill, the "Left Field Lunatics."

That it for my first blog entry and there will be more to come.


Me, Basketball, and Time Management

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Ok so I have officially made it through my first "complete" week of college. Let me tell you, this was no easy task. I know some of you are thinking, "Wow, this chick is being extra dramatic." Little do you know, my week is extremely different from your average college student's so when I say "complete" don't take me lightly: a "complete" week for me includes class, conditioning, skills, pick up, and weights. BUT, I survived with the help of my teammates!

Monday: Slept in later because my first class doesn't start until 10:10... winning already. I had time to eat breakfast with my ninas ( Bri and LB).  After a full day of classes, I strolled through the cafe to grab a bite to eat then I had the rest of the day to do whatever tickled my fancy; until 2:30, my scheduled AEP time. After AEP, I headed to the locker room to get ready for weights. Weights were, well you know, weights. Got in, did work and got stronger; got out. Next, the team played a few pickup games and we eventually called it a night. However, I had to head back to the field house for my second AEP session.  Not a bad day! 

Tuesday: My peaceful slumber is disturbed by the obnoxious horn of my alarm at 5:46 a.m. I roll over a couple of times, and proceed down the ladder of my lofted bed to get ready to head over to Ramsey for team conditioning. We push through and finished it out strong. After conditioning, I head back to my dorm to get ready, and grab breakfast before my 9:30 class. After class, I head back over to Ramsey to have my weekly academic meeting with my favorite post coach, Treka. We discuss my grades and upcoming exams/projects in my classes and enjoy some girl talk along the way. After that, I rush back over to my neck of the woods to grab a quick lunch (PB&J sandwich, trail mix, kettle corn, Gatorade and some fruit) , and then head to my freshman seminar (Facebook Generation Marketing), which is probably my favorite class. Next I'm headed to my Chemistry lab which lasts two and a half hours!!! So two and a half hours later, its 4:50 and I have skills at 5:20, so I jet over to Ramsey for my hour post workout. After skills, we have a team weights session. After weights, we usually play pick up until we just can't move anymore. We start heading back to Blue Ridge  to shower, get ready for bed and finish this little thing called homework.  Day 2 complete.

Wednesday:  I'm thanking God for my 10:10 class, as I take advantage of these extra hours of sleep. I must say, the hardest part of my day will probably be getting out of bed. By this time of the week, my body is getting tired. My legs feel like giant Sequoya trees and my arms feel like noodles (cooked noodles that is, hold the spaghetti sauce). I finish my day's worth of classes and speed through lunch in the cafe so I can savor every minute of nap time I have before AEP and afternoon conditioning. Our conditioning workout today consisted of 8 stride run strides and 10 stadiums. The workout wasn't too bad, it was just a warm day! I felt like a meatloaf just baking in the oven! No matter, the team made it through though. We challenged and encouraged each other to do our best, and know this will only make us stronger (physically and mentally) in the long run. After our run, we played pick up again. I then headed to AEP again, and got some work finished. I trudged back to my dorm and knocked out, preparing for another early morning.

Thursday: 5:38 AM comes around. I set my alarm earlier so I can have time to lie in bed. By the way, I've found that if I sleep in my workout clothes, I can get an extra 7 minutes of sleep. ; I must say I enjoy my walks with Bri to conditioning. We talk about how tired we are , laugh at how long our days are going to be, and discuss all the rewards we are going to give ourselves this weekend (when we make it through the week).  My body is tired, tight, and a little sore but why should I let that stop me? The team fights through conditioning like the beasts we are and I then head back to my room to shower and get ready for class. My day is the same as Tuesday, except that the academic meeting I had on Tuesday is not there and I have Biology Lab instead of Chemistry lab. (Unfortunately, it's still the same amount of time.) I begin trucking it over to Ramsey for my skill workout. I also had homework to finish up that night.

Friday: PRAISE THE LAWD ITS FRIDAY!!!! The fact that all I have to do is make it through class and weights and I'll be home free is all the motivation I need! Friday's classes speed by and I fly through weights! I did it! I made it through the week! For my reward.... a five hour nap!

Saturday: Doing whatever I want....

Sunday: Doing whatever I want, AEP from 5-7, and getting ready to do it again!

Yes, my week seems like a lot of work, but to be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way. All this work that is going on will pay off later down the road when our team is playing for the SoCon Championship. That is the only way you can look at it to keep from listening to that lazy creature in your body and getting off track. Our team is working hard and getting better every day.

Glossary:

Treka- (n): the world's greatest post coach, hands down. She makes sure we go hard in the p-p-p-p-paint. 

Skills- (n): Workouts with the coaches, in which you practice basketball techniques, specialized for your position includes: shooting, offensive and defensive drills. Skills groups consist of 3-4 members.

Sequoya trees- (n): big ole trees found primarily in California woods. Said to grow up past 90ft tall

Stride run strides- (n): a technique frequently used to condition athletes; jogging to the 35yd line then sprinting to the other 35yd line then jogging the rest of the way to the end zone

Stadiums- (n): a conditioning technique in which one runs up and down the steps of the big ole football stadium

AEP- (n): Study hall which is mandatory for all freshman athletes, we have to complete six hours a week.

Knocked out- (adj): the state of being soooooo tired that nothing can or will disturb your slumber

SoCon-(adj): Southern Conference

Ramsey- (n): the gymnasium; where the Catamounts go to work

Blue Ridge- (n): the name of our residence hall (dorms) the best dorms on campus are located here. They are the newest and come with Wi-fi and air conditioning (and we each have our own room).

SoCon Championship- (n): What we will be winning this year.

Until next time,

Live each day like EJ

What's Up With Samantha Episode 10

What's Up With Samantha Episode Six

Samantha Hodge Blog No. 3

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Why am I a redshirt senior?

My sophomore year in college I struggled through the season with a nagging knee injury. After the season, and mass amounts of rest, it was decided that patella surgery would have to be performed, but it was pretty basic.

I should have been playing full force again within 10 weeks. Well, the 10 weeks turned into about 59 weeks.

A few days after the original surgery on February 23, 2010, I went back into the ER for an emergency surgery for a disease cleansing surgery. I had been diagnosed with MRSA-Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is an antibiotic resistant infection, which is lethal if not caught and treated early enough.

I was put on medication after surgery through a permanent IV called a PICC line. I was convinced I would complete the school year, but after another week of rest, a continuous fever of over 100 degrees, and not feeling any better at all, I decided to take a medical waiver from school and go home with my parents.

Saying goodbye to my team that day was one of the worst days- I was determined to see them again, but didn't know how long it would be.

That night I slept in my own bed only to wake up to yet another high fever and horrible chest pain. I was convinced I was having a heart attack. My mom was adamant that it was indigestion so I drank what seemed like a two liter full of diet coke, which ended in very little relief.

I was for sure that it was more serious than indigestion. Unfortunately, I was correct. I went back to the hospital and was lined up to meet my new knee doctor as well as an infectious disease doctor.  With their collaboration and expertise -and another surgery- they had found that my body was rejecting the medicine I had been taking because I was allergic to it. That explained the continuous fever.

They also explained to me that because my body was fighting off the medicine, that the MRSA was spreading and another surgery would be necessary in a few days- surgery #4!! They finally found a medicine my body would accept after two more trials. I don't have any allergies on my record now except for all of these strong antibiotics.

So finally, I start to feel better but am posted up in the hospital bed for what seemed like forever. I was so appreciative of friends that came to visit and daily skype dates with loved ones back in North Carolina. I never realized how much I could miss Cullowhee, but during this time of complete bed rest, I quickly became appreciate of my Catamount family.

Once I got back to my own home, it was a pretty standard routine. I would wake up and do therapy on my knee by myself. I would then watch never ending repeats of Law and Order: SVU and Family Feud, and I would also go to the physical therapist for hours on hours to try and rehabilitate my knee from the original reason I had surgery.

At this time I was unable to walk without assistance. I had a very decorated walker that I sported; it had a bell, basket, and ribbons! But I wanted to get off that thing so badly. I wanted nothing more than to walk again. It was a process to reach that goal.

My physical therapists worked tirelessly to improve my leg strength and teach me how to walk again. In addition to all of the therapy, I was also working on gaining weight back. Laying around for two months, not walking, and stressing over my health caused me to lose a total of 48 pounds. I was disgustingly skinny- you could see every bone in my body. My leg was as small as my arm. I had lost all muscle in my body.

After a few weeks of intense therapy, my leg was not getting any better. It was not straightening or bending. It was stuck at a certain angle from not moving it for so long while dealing with the infection. My doctor decided to go back in for another surgery (#5) to clean out built up cartilage and check on the infection. The surgery was seemingly successful but needed another one a short time later (#6).

By this time I was convinced I had made it through all of the surgeries. I had completed six surgeries, I was gaining weight, and I was beginning to walk a little bit more without my walker. I was doing well at physical therapy. I felt like I was making great strides, and I was.

However, these big strides forward soon came to a halt, and I had little to no progress for quite awhile. My knee was still in need of another surgery (#7). I recovered again from surgery, but again to a few steps forward in therapy and then five steps backwards. The doctor, physical therapist, my mom, and myself had a conversation. It was stated that if I had another surgery and it was not successful in physical therapy recovery, I might not be able to ever run again. It would take a lot of hard work on my end to make sure I didn't take a single minute off. I had to do everything perfectly to put myself in the best position possible to recover correctly.

My last surgery was June 22, 2010. Eight surgeries in six months, a total of 35 days- five full weeks- in the hospital. I had a permanent IV and took IV antibiotics for over six months. I had cried countless hours in pain, fear, and mental and physical exhaustion. I did all of this and was able to show back up to school that next fall.

I still had numerous hours of physical therapy while being back at school. I was not running but was able to walk without the walker. I went to physical therapy three times a day.

My 21st birthday, April 14th, 2011, I was cleared to play soccer again. Tears of joy had never been a more appropriate expression.

My doctor had explained to me as he signed my release that this was a release he thought he would never sign. He was amazed that I had recovered from such a horrendous nightmare and was going to play again. I told him that I couldn't not play again- I had to have the ball at my feet.

This past season, I started every game and helped my team reach the SoCon tournament. I plan to do the same in my last season of eligibility. Can't wait to get the season started in a few days. 

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Recent Comments

    Preston Jacobsen said:

    Nice mention Taylor! Us Left Field Loonies will certainly be ready! We are working on a website as we speak and looking to get sponsored by a few local companies! Omaha! Omaha! Big goals.

    in post Baseball's Taylor Sandefur Blog No. 1