Head Coach Casey Dunn instructs the catchers during Monday's practice.
Sept. 8, 2008
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The Samford baseball team began its fall practice season with a three-hour workout Monday afternoon at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
During the fall, Samford will practice Monday through Friday at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs will take weekends off with the exception of Saturday, October 11, when the team will hold its Family/Alumni Day Scrimmage prior to Samford's football game with Appalachian State.
Samford head coach Casey Dunn said he was excited to start fall practice, which is the first chance for the coaching staff to work on the field with the new players coming into the program this season.
"I'm curious to see how it goes," Dunn said. "We have a lot of new faces out here that we really need to see on the field and in live action. This is a great opportunity for us to start with the evaluation process early in the fall."
Dunn added that, though there are a lot of new faces, there is also a lot of experience returning to the team this season.
"Every year there is turnover," Dunn said. "And this year, we have a lot of new faces, but there are still a lot of older faces. You have Michael Johnson (shortstop) who got a year under his belt last year and Wayne Miller (outfield) who has really matured. Marcus Rodriguez (third base/first base) is a guy who provides a lot of experience. Those guys are guys we can count on, and a lot of our new guys have come from junior colleges.
"Even our high school kids have been very active in summer leagues," Dunn said. "So, they've played a lot. I think, position player-wise, by the time the spring rolls around, we will have a mature group out there."
In the field, Samford returns four players who started a significant number of games last season, though only one, Miller in center field, returns to the same position he played last season. Tripp Swann saw most of his action as a designated hitter last year, but he will play first base this season.
Rodriguez played a lot at first base last year, but will make the transition to third base this season, and Johnson will make the move from second base to shortstop with the departure of Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Michael Marseco.
The majority of the Samford pitching staff returns. Last season, the Bulldogs posted a 5.18 overall ERA, and the team's ERA was 4.11 in conference games.
Samford is preparing for its first season as a member of the Southern Conference after spending the last five seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference.