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Slauter ready for postseason: The junior catcher was not phased from catching 61 games

May 30, 2012

Mitch Slauter slides into home earlier this season. The junior catcher has been a constant behind the plate for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Standing outside the player’s locker room at Dudy Noble Field, Mitch Slauter visited with various members of the media to explain that six games in six days was no big deal.

He wasn’t sore. Not tired. He was just excited to get to practice in preparation for the Florida State regional this weekend.

“It just comes from having fun, (and) that’s the greatest part about it,” said Slauter, who caught all 61 games for the Bulldogs this season. “Just enjoying yourself and having fun playing the game, that’s why we do it.”

As a junior college transfer, Slauter had big shoes to fill with the departure of Wes Thigpen, who had been the primary catcher for MSU the past two seasons, but that didn’t keep the Kansas native from attacking the responsibility head on.

“I just tried to get (the pitchers) to be as comfortable with me as possible," Slauter said. "This is not just a baseball relationship. They have to trust every aspect of me to make themselves more comfortable to make them perform the best they can.”

Obviously the time spent developing relationships with the MSU hurlers and getting to know their tendencies on the mound has paid off.  So much so that the coaching staff and pitching staff alike trust Slauter to call the game from behind the plate.

“I call about 90 percent of the pitches that are thrown,” Slauter said. “Every once in a while the coaches will send in a call that one of them likes.

“The only pitcher that really shakes me off is Kendall (Graveman) because he has a sequence he likes and we are getting more and more on the same page.”

It is hard to imagine Slauter can find the time and energy to get in extra work given the amount he is asked to do, however, he recently he caught a bullpen session for the newest member of the Texas Ranger organization, Roy Oswalt.

“It was a pretty cool experience getting to catch a guy that is a former Cy Young Award winner, and that’s been in a few All-Star games,” Slauter said with a smile. “It is one of those experiences that you will be able to share with your kids someday.”

While Slauter admitted he didn’t know what Oswalt was truly capable of, he said he still has what it takes.

“Yeah, I’d say he still has it," Slauter said. "It was real stuff and it was really impressive. He simply had command of all his pitches. He just had such late break on everything.”

The Bulldogs held a light practice session on Wednesday followed by a film session before taking the afternoon to relax.

State will board a plane this afternoon to head to Tallahassee, Fla., for the opening game of the Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State. The Bulldogs play Samford at 11 a.m. Friday.

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