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zupcicjournalWhen it comes to being an athlete, there is one constant in nearly every sport — having teammates you spend almost every waking moment with. With most, you develop relationships that will last a lifetime and are people you can always look for when you need help the most. That is exactly the case when it comes to my teammates on the Appalachian State baseball team. A group of 35-plus guys who come to the park every day ready to back each other up until the very end. This season has had its tales of ups and downs and in the sport of baseball that’s to be expected. In my opinion, there is no harder sport to succeed at day in and day out.

To be a successful program, each guy on the team has to be ready to step up and do his part when his name is called. Whether it’s a freshman or a fifth-year senior, there is no one more important than the other. Leaders come in all ages and ability levels as well — you don’t have to be the super star to be a leader and this team has a number of them.

You have a freshman in Matt Brill, who works his tail off every day to become a better hitter. Everything he works for and does is to help this ball club win. Dillon Dobson and Jaylin Davis are two of the most gifted baseball players I have ever had the chance to play with and each has their own style of leading this club. Third basemen WIlliam Head, who at one point in his career was asked to be the team manager by a former coach, is now an everyday piece in the lineup. You have second baseman Michael Pierson, who went from being a role player most of his career to a vital piece in the middle of our order who has a chance to leave the ballpark with every swing he takes. One of the most impressive styles of leadership on this club comes from first basemen Alex Leach, who no matter what is going on with his game, is always there to pick someone up and supports each person every single day.

What has carried our team to this point in the season has been our starting pitching, led by sixth-year senior Tyler Moore. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better story in college baseball as Moore has been through so much to get to where he is today. Junior LHP Jeffrey Springs has all the makings to be a successful professional baseball player and he has taken off this year after having some rough patches in his first two years. And you can’t forget our ace Jamie Nunn, whose mentality is the epitome of a Friday-night starter. Our set-up man, Taylor Thurber pitched only two-thirds of an inning in his freshmen season. But in the last year-and-a-half, he has stepped up to be our most consistent arm out of the pen, showing his “interesting” style of doing things every time he steps on the mound.

I can’t say all of that without talking about a teammate of mine who has been there with me from the very beginning, someone who I’ve been blessed to play beside for four years in right fielder Preston Troutman. A four-year starter, Troutman comes to the park every day with enough energy to get the whole team going. He’s a grinder who will do just about anything in this world to get a hit every time he steps up to the plate and when he doesn’t, well let’s just say you don’t want to be a pitcher facing him next time he comes to bat. Troutman is a leader in multiple ways and uses his style of play as well as being a vocal leader to help bring the team together during times when we need it most.

I can promise that throughout this season you will hear the names of every single one of my teammates on this blog as being vital pieces to what we are doing here at Appalachian. We do everything with one another, and we are willing to fight side-by-side to the very end.

I want to leave you with a quote from New York Yankees great, Yogi Berra:

“When you’re part of a team, you stand up for your teammates. Your loyalty is to them. You protect them though good and bad, because they’d do the same for you.”

That is what Appalachian State baseball does. We play for each other and we protect each other. No matter what adversity we go through, we will be there fighting until the very end.

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