Feb. 1, 2013
CBI Atlantic Sun preview
Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches' Poll
Coaches' Preseason All-A-Sun Team
With Mercer's Nick Backlund
By Phil Stanton
Backlund (left) is a junior first baseman from San Jose, Calif.
He batted .326 in his only season at Chemeketa Community College
in Salem, Ore., two years ago. Backlund led the Northwest
Athletic Association of Community Colleges with 12 homers and
was third with 43 RBI.
He arrived at Mercer in 2012 and continued to
pound the ball. Backlund led the Atlantic Sun Conference with 85
hits, 149 total bases, a batting average of .381 and slugging
percentage of .668. He was second in the league with 16 home
runs, 58 RBI and .471 on-base percentage while placing third
with 51 runs. Backlund was a member of several All-America
teams, including honorable mention by CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Many anticipate big things from Backlund in 2013.
He has already been named to a pair of Preseason First Team
1. Have the adjustments been difficult to go
from living in San Jose, Calif., to Salem, Ore., to Macon, Ga.?
I would not say it's been difficult.
It's been a fun experience to be able to live in a few different
places and enjoy what each has to offer. The hardest part is my
family not getting to watch all my games. Other than that I love
it down here and I'd rather play in the hot, humid south than
the cold rain in Oregon any day.
What were the keys for your success at the plate in 2012?
I would credit my success at the plate last year to my hard
work and my mental toughness. My goal last year was to enjoy the
moment and not worry about the past or future. I only dealt with
what was right in front of me and just focused on having fun.
3. You reached base 39 times by walks or being plunked and
struck out 37 times. How important is patience for you at the
Patience is huge for me! It is what Coach Holmes preaches to
me every day during batting practice or before a game. I read a
book by Shawn Greene last year before the season and one of the
big things I took away from it was about how the pitcher is my
friend who is there to help me. I took that to heart and was
able to be a much more patient hitter when I viewed the game
4. How important is the first weekend of the season, facing
Ohio State, St. John's and Notre Dame?
The first weekend is big for us as a team. It will set the
tone for the whole season. We have been working tirelessly to be
as prepared as we possibly can. Going down to Florida and
getting a few wins will give us great confidence that we can
carry through the rest of the season.
5. What are the biggest factors for Mercer to reach the NCAA
Tournament this season?
The biggest factor will be consistency. Last year we played
phenomenally at times and horrible at others. We need to bring
the same intensity every day regardless of who we are playing,
making sure to learn from our mistakes and ramp up to be playing
our best baseball at the end of the season. Lastly, winning the
big moments will be huge. If our pitchers can win the big
pressure situations and our hitters can win the big moments on
offense we will be a special team.
(photos courtesy of Mercer Media