Clemson's Gibbs & New Mexico's Neda Top Catchers In College Baseball


It’s almost time for the 2010 College World Series in Omaha Nebraska. There are many reasons why college baseball is exciting. The most important of all has to be the players. Their commitment to a school is serious and the hard work is probably more intense than that of Major League players. Between school, a young person’s social life, and learning the intricacies of the game, it’s important to recognize their dedication. The skills of a catcher are probably the least noticed by the average fan. So, I’ll start with Micah Gibbs of the LSU Tigers. The Tigers are ranked 17th in the nation, and were the last team standing in last years World Series. It’s clear as the vivid sun that LSU will be present in the classic games in ‘10, and junior Micah Gibbs is a major factor for their success. In ’09, he was on the ABCA Gold Glove Team, the SEC All Defensive Team, and was invited to play on the NCAA Regional All Tournament Team in Irvine. Gibbs was also the starting catcher for Team U.S.A in the ’08 Czech Republic games.

The Southeastern Conference is one of the toughest conferences to play in. Although LSU is ranked 17th, they have to contend with Florida, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Auburn. Those are all top ranked schools, and in the conference’s western division, LSU is in 4th place. From the ashes of that battleground, Micah Gibbs emerges as a prominent offensive force. In the entire conference, Gibbs has the 4th highest batting average of .406. He’s one of the reasons coaches are picking LSU to win the World Series for the second consecutive time. In last game on May 4th against Southeastern Louisiana, Gibbs demonstrated a more patient aspect of his game. To help LSU end a 4 game loosing streak, Gibbs walked 3 times, one of those walks was for an RBI. It showed the type of discipline that helps his on base percentage reach .480; he opened up the opportunity to score 2 runs in the process. On Friday May 7th, Micah Gibbs and the LSU Tigers take on 19th ranked Vanderbilt in highly significant inter-conference duel. Another catcher that’s been ranked highly this season is Rafael Neda of the New Mexico Lobos. He’s been honored as an All Conference player every year since his freshman season, and earlier this season, he was put on the Johnny Bench Award Watch List. His own coach Ray Birmingham calls Neda the best catcher in the nation. The finalist will be announced on June 1st.

The unranked Lobos sit in 2nd place right behind 4th ranked TCU in the Mountain West Conference. This conference may not be as tough as the Southeastern, but make no mistake that trying to topple a team like the TCU Frogs is not easy, and New Mexico will be faced with that task for the first time this season on May 7th. It will be the battle for conference Supremacy. Entering the stage is junior catcher Rafael Neda. He entered the season as a 1st Team All American and ranked as the 63rd biggest collegiate prospect. Within the conference Neda has the 6th highest batting average of .375, he’s tied for the 3rd highest homerun total with 10, and with the mounting pressure of the pending game against such a highly ranked conference rival, Neda has to keep the pitching rotation comfortable and smooth. In Neda’s last game, he helped the Lobos win the second game in a three game series against the Aztecs of San Diego State. He went 4 for 6 and drove in 6 of the 20 runs that the Lobos massacred the Aztecs with. So, as Omaha approaches, we need to pay close attention to these conference rivalries. The catchers play a hand in every situation of a game. Catchers are a crucial commodity in baseball, and both LSU and New Mexico posses two of the best in college baseball. The rankings of teams may fluctuate from week to week; the hot streaks and slumps of players may also climb and slide. But, as long as the earth is predictably spinning on its axis, college baseball will be showcasing the grinding exertion of sweat and grit.



By:Adrian Nevarez
College Sports Fans Staff Writer


> Be sure to follow Adrian during the entire 2010 College World Series & be sure to check out his in depth coverage of the MLB, online through DFN Sports Sites!




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