Last season, the Catamounts, with a record of 37-21, lost in the Southern Conference championship to Citidel and just missed the cut to enter the NCAA tournament. 2011 is a brand new season though, and Coach Bobby Moranda and his Catamounts have high expectations.
Coach Moranda has been coaching baseball for twenty-five years and has spent his last four years here at WCU serving as the head coach. He is thrilled to be coaching in one of the top 50 baseball programs in the country. He won his 100th game last season and looks to improve his record here at WCU, which is over .500. Coach Moranda is excited about this 56 game season, calling last season a “nice season, but it’s never complete unless you win a championship.”
Despite six key players graduating last season, the Catamounts have some returning stars such as junior Ross Heffley, who is the top second baseman in the conference. The Catamounts are led by four captains: outfielder Matt Johns, catcher Ollie Goulder, pitcher Matt Benedict, and reliever Brandon Johnson – all seniors.
As coach Moranda put it, “They all show great leadership and talent.”
Moranda is also very excited about the upcoming freshmen.
“We have some great recruits this year; I am very excited about our freshmen.”
The Catamount’s goal for this season is clear and simple: win a championship.
“I think we’ll win a championship. I think we can do it,” said Moranda.
From the conference, eight teams enter the tournament, and from there three teams enter the NCAA tournament.
“Our league is very strong. It is very talented and very competitive. Charleston will probably be favored to win the title, but we’ll have something to say about that,” said Moranda. “We knocked them out of the tournament last year.”
Moranda believes the pitching is the strength of the team.
“We have a very strong bullpen,” said Moranda. “Benedict has the best ERA in the conference, Brandon Johnson is the top reliever in the league and he had nine wins last year.”
Moranda is concerned about their left-handed pitching, saying they need to step that up as well as with some of the outfielders.
“We have a strong right side bullpen,” he said.
Playing on a brand-new, completely renovated stadium excites both the coaches and the players. The seats, stands, nets, walls, and fields have all been redone for a fresh, new look. Even the uniforms are new as they will be incorporating new hats and wearing grey pants on the road.
“We want to get the crowd back,” said Moranda. “We want the students to come back, we love the students. We are trying to get them back to support us and have fun. We won’t let them down.”
The entire coaching staff and players are excited for this season and invite everyone to be there at their games. The season started on Feb. 18 against Moorehead State.