Archive for Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bobcats’ catcher settling into new leadership role

April 11, 2007

Augie Pierce is a disciplined and smart baseball player.

He has been lauded for his work behind the plate for the Basehor-Linwood baseball team. As the team's catcher, he prides himself in seeing the game play out and making adjustments on each pitch.

It is thus shocking to find out that Pierce's favorite baseball memory was a clear and calculated act of insubordination.

"A couple years ago, we were in the state qualifier for American Legion," Pierce said. "It was the bottom of the seventh inning in a tie game. I was batting and the count went to 3-0 with one out."

With a runner on second base, Pierce had a chance to knock in the winning run. He peered to his coach for the sign. Take. Pierce was to leave the bat on his shoulder regardless of how enticing the next pitch looked.

Pierce knew the pitcher knew that he would be told to take the next pitch. Pierce guessed the pitcher would fire a fastball down the heart of the plate to move the count to 3-1. He was right.

"I swung and hit it to left field," Pierce said. "The runner held at third, but two pitches later there was a passed ball. We went to state."

Evidently the coach wasn't upset.

Pierce has been catching regularly since seventh grade. Generally the most baseball savvy players will naturally gravitate towards the position. Pierce says this wasn't so. He first caught by chance after his team's catcher became worn down by the summer heat during a tournament. The fit was natural.

"I like being close to the umpire, and getting to talk to him and get to know him," Pierce said. "You are always doing something (when catching)."

Pierce enjoys working with the pitching staff, too. He said finding a comfort level is a challenge when first catching new pitchers.

"With Cody (McCoy) I have caught him for two years," Pierce said. "Catching him is fun. I am used to it. With some of the new guys, I haven't gotten to know them like I should yet.

"With Cody I know how his breaking balls will go or how his fastball will move. With the new pitchers, I don't know how their pitches will move. It's hard to know what to expect. I'm getting more comfortable with them."

Pierce believes the Bobcats as a team are still acclimating themselves to playing with new teammates. BLHS has several new starters this year.

"With certain teams I play with, I know how the pitching rotation and defense is set up," Pierce said. "With a new team like this, a lot of things need to be worked out. Most of the team this year isn't how it was last year. We need to get in sync as a team."

Pierce doesn't look at the inexperience as a negative. The attitude of new players has been a revelation.

"I think it is a good sign because some of our upperclassmen from the years past haven't been serious about the game," Pierce said. "Getting rid of them has been good. Our freshmen have experience and they are serious about the game. It is a new team. It should come together."

Pierce said it was at times difficult to endure the losing at BLHS, but remains optimistic that the team can turn it around this season.

"It's tough because we haven't really been winning much," Pierce said. "If we start getting better it will start to be more fun to be with a winning program."

Pierce can see the improvement. After all, the catcher sees everything.

"Judging by the way we have been practicing with our talent, we have improved a lot," Pierce said. "Now we need to bring it into the game situations.

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