*This story was published to the Western Carolina Journalist*
The 2016 Southern Conference Baseball Champions, Western Carolina Catamounts, are preparing for their heavy schedule in the months to come.
The 2017 spring seasons officially starts on Jan. 27 and the first pitch is in February.
The defending SoCon champions have started their new season workouts and daily practices working hours each week to be ready for the season opener weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Feb. 17, against St. Johns. In that opening weekend, they will play the College World Series National Champions, Coastal Carolina.
Coming off of the SoCon championship title means that this season will have high expectations for the team.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming year. I like the group of guys we have and expect a good year. We are expecting to win another championship and be able to go to another regional. We know everyone will be giving us their best shot at us so we have to come out and be prepared,” senior outfield player, Bryson Bowman says.
They have been practicing in the offseason more than ever with daily workouts and drills. The team is aware of their opponents for the seasons rankings on the national scale so they are changing the game to match them and keep their ring.
Bowman is not the only one excited for this upcoming season. Junior right handed pitcher, transferred in fall 2016 from San Luis Obispo, California, Jake Niezen will help the Catamounts reach their goal as well.
“I am so thankful to be apart of this amazing program. We have so much chemistry as a team and I believe that will be a huge aspect in us achieving our goals. The goals and expectations for the year have driven us to work as hard as we possibly could this off-season, so we can be successful on the diamond this year,” Niezen says.
Opening Day in Cullowhee is a three game weekend series against Marshall on Feb. 24 with the first pitch at 4 p.m.