By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – A two-catcher system has been good for Mitch Slauter.
Even though he’s dealt with throat surgery and a fractured hand this season, the Mississippi State senior said he’s actually feeling better than he was this time last year. That’s because last season, he was the only real option behind the plate.
Slauter started 62 of 64 games, including six in a row in the SEC Tournament in the Alabama heat. His body wore down.
“My body’s much better than it was last year,” Slauter said prior to the Starkville Regional, which saw Saturday’s action delayed by weather. MSU’s game against South Alabama ended after the Daily Journal went to press.
Senior Nick Ammirati, who saw limited playing time last year, stepped up his level of play in the offseason to put himself in the mix. Then Slauter had a throat issue, hurt his hand, and Ammirati became the main catcher.
Entering Saturday, “Ammo” had started 39 games to Slauter’s 27.
“It’s a blessing having two guys as good as both of us are, and I know coach (John) Cohen talks about that all the time, about how easy it is for them,” Slauter said. “It’s not wearing down either one of us, and it makes both of us able to play to the best of our ability.”
Ammirati was batting .274 with 23 RBIs entering Saturday, while Slauter was hitting .242. Both are more valuable for their defensive presence and an ability to handle the pitching staff.
“We can take care of the guys, and every single one of the guys trust both of us,” Slauter said.
time to learn
Ammirati only played in 13 games last year, but he used his time on the bench to better himself and learned a good bit from Slauter.
“I got a full year of watching,” Ammirati said. “We play against each other in the fall, too, so that helps out a lot.”