"On the Bump" w/ Cole Thompson
Monday, March 21, 2011
Aloha Centenary fans. We have spent the majority of this week in Hawaii and I will tell y'all about our experiences and games from the past week.

We came out on Monday and had a solid practice at Shehee Stadium in Shreveport. It is always nice to start the week out on a good note, because it sets a solid tone and gives us confidence to feed off the rest of the week. Tuesday, was another excellent day of baseball for us, as we had a sharp practice at the beginning, followed by an intrasquad scrimmage. We had a few guys step up their game in the scrimmage, and as a result those guys have gotten several chances to prove they can play in our games. On Wednesday, we had a light day of practice, consisting of mass fungo and batting practice. We had another solid batting practice, which gave us a good feeling leading into our weekend series with Hawaii.

Thursday was a travel day for us, and I am not using the phrase "travel day" lightly. We woke up at 6 AM for breakfast and prepared to leave for the Shreveport Regional Airport. Our flight left Shreveport at 10 AM and we arrived in Dallas around 11:30 AM. We had an hour in the DFW airport to grab a bite to eat before we boarded our 1:15 PM flight bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. It was a ridiculously long 8.5-hour flight. On the plane, guys found several ways to entertain themselves. A majority of the guys watched movies on their laptop, others listened to music, some slept to pass the time, while one person got up out of their seat 12 times (Matt Creamer, thanks for counting Allison). Personally, I sat between Matty and Kelby Langston. We talked some, watched Friday Night Lights, Semi-Pro, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Also, we were kept entertained by looking across the aisle and watching Trey Lavespere and all of his goofy antics. Trey may be one of the funniest guys on the team, and he definitely kept us laughing throughout the flight. We landed in Honolulu around 6 PM Hawaii time. Needless to say, some of the guys were jet-lagged because of the 5-hour time change. We received a very pleasant surprise when we arrived at the baggage claim. Tim Deering and his wife Anna, whose son Tim played for Centenary two years ago, surprised us with an authentic Hawaiian Lei for each of us. It was a great start to the trip and I know the guys were really thankful for the gift. After leaving the airport, the team went straight to the University of Hawaii's field to get in a quick practice. We were all very surprised by how nice Hawaii's facilities were. It's a great stadium and there is nothing quite like playing baseball in Hawaii. Also, this was our first true road trip of the year, thus we were assigned road roommates for the first time. On this trip I was paired with Marc Martinez and Derrick Hernandez. These two freshmen crack me up, and there is never a dull moment in our room when they are around. We can always count on Hernandez to give us some wise words before we head to bed.

Friday was our first game, but the game did not start until 6:35 (11:35 Central). Most of the team used the morning to get out and explore the Waikiki beach. A few went surfing, while others walked on the beach and did some shopping. As for me, I went shopping with Kelby, Marc, and Grady Flournoy. We walked down to the Phiten store and had the chance to sample a few of their products. At 1:30, we had a team lunch and then retired to our rooms until we left for the ballpark at 3:45. I started game 1 for us, and I didn't go out and do my job. I struggled to find the strike zone and I did not give us a chance to win. It's tough going through little slumps like this, and I know I need to step it up in order for the team to be successful. As for the rest of the game, we did not play very well. We didn't play with much energy and we only had 6 hits. On the bright side, Kyle Morton hit his 3rd home run of the year and freshman Ryan Maldonado threw a solid 4 innings of relief for us, while striking out 5 Hawaii batters.

On Saturday, we had the morning to ourselves again until 1:30. I took the chance to get out and walk along the beach at Waikiki. Game 2 was another sub-par day for us, as we came out flat again. Starter Seth Lugo, who is normally the anchor of our pitching staff, didn't have his best stuff but he still got us into the 5th inning. At the plate, we only recorded 5 hits, and we made 2 errors in the field. Needless to say, the team was frustrated with our performance and we were embarrassed by our efforts. Yeah, you can say that Centenary is in a "transition" year for our athletic teams and we are not expected to be able to compete. Our team does not believe in that idea and we are not going to buy into that mentality. We take the field each day expecting to win and be successful. We are not going to sugarcoat our struggles and make excuses; we are not pleased with our rocky start. But I can promise you that our guys are working hard to get better to change our fortunes. We take the field with a winner's mentality, and we are learning from our mistakes each day. Ultimately, we are learning and building a successful foundation brick-by-brick each day in order to be successful in conference and make the conference tournament in our final year in the Summit League.

Sunday was a new day for us, and we brought our strong mentality to the field. It was a day game for us, as we started at 1:05 PM Hawaiian time. I must say, it may have been the nicest day I will ever play a baseball game in my life. It was sunny, clear skies, and 75 degrees on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I don't think I could ever ask for a more beautiful day to play baseball. As I stood in the outfield with senior Derek Dalzell during batting practice, we talked about how truly awesome it was to experience this trip. For me, this was the moment that the pure greatness of this trip really soaked in. I had flashbacks to the Little League fields in Plano, Texas where I played as a 10 year old, and now 10 years later I am playing college baseball in Hawaii. Sometimes you just have to step back and realize how grateful and really blessed we are in our lives.

As for the game, we played better but not near the level we are capable of. On the positive side, we received a respectable start from Laetten Galbraith in his first collegiate start and freshman JoAnthony Cantu recorded his first collegiate hit. Also, our defense played an errorless game, which was our first time to do this in several weeks. As you can see, we kept the game close because we pitched well and played solid defense. However, we struggled at the plate again, only notching 5 hits. Our hitters know they have to step it up, and they work hard every day to get better. I am not worried about them because I trust they will be ready for conference, just like they trust our pitching staff to be ready to roll come Summit League play. I'd like to end on a positive from Sunday's game though. Props to Mark Gillean and Dan Lazarou for coming off the bench and getting pinch-hit singles for us in the later innings. Pinch-hitting may be one of the most difficult things to do in sports because you are expected to come off the bench cold after watching for several innings and put the team on your back. It really shows a players' mental fortitude when they come off the bench and give the team a boost.

After Sunday's game, we went on a team adventure to Koko Head Mountain in Honolulu. It was a very steep mountain that we climbed by stairs as a team building exercise. It was a pretty challenging hike, as we trekked up the 1,048 steps leading to the summit of the mountain. Once we reached the peak, it was a breathtaking view. You could do a 360-degree turn and see North Shore (famous for Great White Sharks and world-class surfing waves), other mountains, beautiful valleys, and miles of Hawaiian shoreline. I feel like my description does not even come close to describing the amazing experience and view. Check the "Centenary Athletics" page on Facebook to see photos and video of our hike.

Thanks for reading this week and I will be back next Monday to tell y'all about our final game on Monday, as well as the details of next week in the life of a Centenary Gents baseball player. We are off next weekend, so we will use the week as a chance to improve on our weaknesses as well as rest some nagging injuries some guys are suffering from.

I did not get the chance to interview 2 teammates this week because of the Internet situation in our hotel and it has been a hectic week of school, travel, and baseball. However, check back next week to find our next series of interviews. Until next week, go Gents!