In our second Murray State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the Breds’ vacant catching position.
The departed — Senior Jason Laws batted .314 with four home runs, 36 RBI, 41 runs scored and 14 doubles in 52 games for Murray St. in 2010. Laws started 45 games behind the plate for Murray State last season and five games at designated hitter when he wasn’t catching. Laws was one of just three Breds to appear in over 50 games in 2010. The catcher made 13 errors on the season and finished 2010 with a .951 fielding percentage. Laws also was credited with 11 passed balls. Opposing runners were successful 86.4 percent of the time in 57 stolen base attempts against Laws.
Returning candidates — Senior catcher Drew Pixley made all 12 starts behind the plate in 2010 that didn’t go to Laws for Murray State. Pixley batted .309 with no home runs, six RBI and 14 runs scored in 2010. The left-handed pitcher appeared in 22 total games for Murray State in 2010. Opposing runners were successful 75 percent of the time in 18 stolen base attempts against Pixley in 2010…Senior catcher Bo Akers has appeared in seven games over two seasons with Murray St…Freshman catcher Nick Paradossi redshirted during the 2010 season but batted .443 as a senior at Bosse High School in Evansville, Ind.
Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes figures to earn significant playing time after coming to Murray St. from Wabash Valley Junior College. Rhodes earned honorable mention JUCO All-American honors as a sophomore at Wabash after batting .391 with eight home runs and 76 RBI. Rhodes scored 72 runs in 56 games for Wabash…Freshman Clay Fuson is the other new catcher on the roster. Fuson comes to Murray St. from Lipscomb High School in Nashville, Tenn., where he batted .389 as a senior.
Wildcard — It appears the only surprise in the Breds’ catching battle would be if Pixley or Rhodes didn’t get the majority of the playing time behind the plate. The real wildcard in this battle will be if head coach Rob McDonald tries to get both players in the lineup at the same time by playing one at DH, first base or some other position on the diamond.