Feb. 7, 2006
PULLMAN, Wash. -
The Cougar baseball team opens the 2006 season this weekend, as it travels to Charleston, S.C., to square off with East Tennessee State, Kennesaw State, Charleston Southern, and Missouri in the Buccaneer Baseball Classic.
The Cougars feature a lot of young blood this season, with 25 players on the 40-man roster being freshman and sophomores.
The Cougar Sports Information Department got the chance to catch up with senior catcher/DH Zach Franklin earlier this week to get his outlook on the upcoming season.
SI: How much does the cold Pullman weather prepare the team for the season?
ZF: It helps. We are out here in rain, snow, what ever it is in the cold. It will only make it that much easier when we play in the nice weather, when we don't have to worry about our arms being tight. And it has made us tougher as a whole.
SI: Tell me about the difference between practicing outdoors and practicing in the cage at the Field House?
ZF: The fact that the coaches are having us scrimmage and get in as much live hitting as possible will really help once it's game time because we won't just be seeing machine work. There is no substitute for getting out here and playing live ball.
SI: You are one of the few veterans on this year's squad. Tell me about this team compared to past Cougar teams.
ZF: We have had some rough years, obviously. Not to say we didn't have talent on those teams, but this year we have a different breed of guys. The coaches have got the guys in here that want to be here, want to compete, and have the right mentality. Out of all the teams I have been on, this is the most driven and determined team I have seen, especially this early. And we are hungry.
SI: With the influx of young players and the departure of some of last year's players, does your role change?
ZF: The mentor part doesn't change for me. This is my third year in a leadership role. Every year you have the same thing, you need to help kids get used to college and get used to how we are practicing everyday in the cold. You have to be a pillar for them and teach them how to do it. That doesn't change much. The playing part is definitely about to change. I was behind Brady Everett last year because he was a stud. My role was to DH and I accepted that role and did the best I could do. Now I am more in that catcher role. So the playing role has changed quite a bit.
SI: This season's schedule has the team traveling a lot of miles, which means a lot of flying. Are you a good flyer?
ZF: I don't really like the take off and landing part too much, but I have done it so many times so far, that it is just another day. At about midseason it starts to wear on you a little bit.
SI: You grew up in Bellevue. What are your thoughts on the Super Bowl this past weekend?
ZF: I would like to say we were robbed. We finally got there, but we didn't play as well as we needed to. I wish we could have won the game. I am happy for the Hawks and it was fun to watch. Hopefully we will get back there again.