Catawba’s “Hit Men”
March 21, 2017
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Lately, Catawba College has been blessed with a growing amount of success in the athletic realm. Under the guidance of Coach Curtis Walker, the football team has perennially boasted one of the best defenses in the conference. Also, this season both our men’s and women’s basketball team celebrated 4 players who have reached the 1,000 point milestone in their careers. Both of those achievements PALE in comparison to the consistent greatness of the baseball program. With the way the boys are swinging the bats so far, this team could go further than any Catawba squad has ever advanced in the Gantt era .
Since Coach Jim Gantt took over the baseball program 20 years ago, winning has become the norm. In fact, the seven time coach of the year has guided the Indians to 17 straight 30 win seasons. Six of those seasons the Indians finished with over 40 wins. Nine times the Indians were invited to the NCAA II Regional tournament. Yet one accolade escapes the decorated Catawba program: a World Series trophy.
So far this spring, the Indians have the hottest bat around. Currently sporting a nine game win streak, Catawba’s Hit men have scored double digit runs in seven of those wins. The scariest stat from the win streak is the fact that during this eight game win streak, the Indians have scored 125 runs on 149 hits! The confidence this team has swinging the bat will only increase as the season progresses into the spring. Incredibly, the Indians have only given up double digit runs in three games this year. They also happened to win two of those games.
While the strength of the bat is mighty, Catawba has a CLEAR weakness when it comes to handling their business on the mound. The Achilles heel that could ruin their title hopes has been a rather lackluster performance on the pitching mount. So far this season, the Indians have given up just over 6 runs per game which places them at a solid 167th in the nation. That won’t quite cut it for a team with national championship aspirations. Also, the Indians give up nearly 11 hits per game, which is good for 154th. Baseball may be fun to watch when players are hitting like its batting practice; but the Catawba Indians can’t rely on their bats alone to carry them forever.
In order to complete such a difficult task, Catawba will need more of whatever junior outfielder Luke Setzer has to offer. The East Rowan graduate has been brilliant at the plate this season and is leading the team with eight home runs and a batting average of .533. Most impressively, Setzer has only struck out six times in 60 at bats. Then there is the steady bat of junior first baseman Chance Bowden. The Catawba veteran has been efficient all season leading the team in doubles and currently sits second on the team in hits with 26. The unsung heroes of this Catawba team are two players who did not have a single at bat last season. Redshirt sophomore Nick Coble is determined to swing at whatever he sees. Despite leading the team in strikeouts, the right handed slugger has batted in a team high 23 runs. Oh and we can’t forget about freshman third baseman Jackson Raper. Basically thrown into the fire, the young infielder has batted in 14 runs in his 46 at bats (which is a pretty impressive rate for someone who has never played college baseball).
Everyone has their flaws, but this baseball unit carries the potential to go very, very, far. As long as their pitching stays decent, can this team out hit anyone they face? This team is hungry for more than just another “good season”. You can feel their intensity with every swing of the bat. This year they have the talent to finish with more than just a good season. Catawba’s Hit Men have a chance to do the unthinkable.