Junior catcher Myles Emmerson had a dramatic turn around from his early season struggles. At the beginning of the year, he seemed lost at bat. Now, Emmerson is Cal Poly’s best batter in Big West Conference play.
After starting just 16 games in his sophomore season, Emmerson took over as the starting catcher for the 2019 season. While starting at any position carries a lot of pressure, being a catcher carries extra responsibility. On top of being defensively sound and productive at the plate, Emmerson must know each individual pitcher’s play style in and out.
“I definitely was feeling some pressure early on to deliver,” Emmerson said. “I don’t really know, it just sort of got to me … I was probably making things harder than they needed to be.”
While it is common to see players struggle at bat early in the season, Emmerson seemed cursed at the start, only mustering three hits in the first 14 games. At one point, Emmerson’s batting average dipped all the way down to .082. Emmerson was moved toward the back end of the batting lineup, and it seemed that Cal Poly was going to start exploring other options behind the plate.
However, as the Mustangs began the second half of their schedule, Emmerson started seeing results and has stayed hot since. By collecting 32 hits in his last 90 at bats, he has worked his way back to being a key-contributor role in Cal Poly’s offense. From the No. 5 spot in the Mustangs’ batting order, Emmerson has recorded seven extra base hits and 16 RBI. Emmerson’s best performance of the season came on May 3 against Hawai’i, when he connected on four hits through four appearances at the plate for four RBI.
“I never really changed my approach at the plate or made anything different,” Emmerson said. “It was just about having my head in the right place as a hitter.”
Emmerson ranks tenth in the Big West with a .352 batting average in conference games. Along with his success behind the plate, Emmerson has also masterfully handled the pitching staff, only allowing two passed balls all year.
“He’s a tireless worker back there,” pitching coach Chal Fanning said. “He cares a lot about the pitchers and takes a lot of pride in his craft.”
A key part of the success of any pitcher-catcher battery is trust between the two and Emmerson.
“They trust throwing to him, that’s the key,” Fanning said. “If you want to throw a breaking ball in the dirt, he’s got it.”
“I feel like I work really well with [Bobby Ay] and all the other guys as well … I try to settle them down so they can do what we need them to do,” Emmerson said.
While pressure might have had an effect on Emmerson early on, he said he is not feeling pressured going into Cal Poly’s most important series of the season: A battle for first place in the Big West against UC Santa Barbara.
“We’ve proven that we have a good team this year,” Emmerson said. “Now we just have to go and play good, winning baseball … it will be a good series.”