Baseball: Sam Fuld
May 3, 2002
Over the PA booms, 'Now batting, the center fielder, number five, Sam Fuld.'
Stepping to the plate, the lefty native of Durham, New Hampshire crouches into his picture perfect stance, sits back, and readies himself for whatever the pitcher has to offer. 'Battle 'em Bammer!' rings out from the Cardinal dugout as coach Mark Marquess shouts encouragement to his number two hitter. True to his nickname, Fuld has been battling all season long, and as of lately has been 'bamming' as well by absolutely pulverizing opponents' pitching staffs over the last ten games.
'My swing feels good right now and so is my balance,' says Fuld. 'So much of it is confidence. For a while this year when I was struggling, I didn't have much confidence, and that's huge. But once you get a few hits strung together it really helps.'
Right now the sophomore's confidence is riding sky high as Fuld has recorded nine multiple hit games in the last ten contests (4/14 - 5/1) as he is hitting .561 (23-41) with 12 runs scored, seven RBI, a double, a triple and a home run over this remarkable stretch. The lefty's individual performance in Stanford's 13-0 victory over Oregon State (4/28) highlights this hot streak. After walking in the first inning, Fuld singled and doubled in his next two at bats. After receiving another free pass in the sixth, he followed suit with two more hits, a line drive home run to rightcenter field in the eighth and a single in the ninth. 'Bammer' reached base in all six plate appearances, scored a career-high five runs, knocked in two, hit his third round-tripper of the 2002 campaign and was just a triple short of the cycle. Not too shabby for a day's work at the ballpark.
Fans see the physical product of Fuld's efforts, however the mental side to hitting is just as important. Like most hitters, the standout sophomore sticks to a routine.
'Ten minutes before the game I like to take some practice swings and visualize a pitcher throwing to me. When their starter is in the bullpen, I will make sure to look at him and see what types of pitches he has. I do more of the same when he takes the mound for warm-ups, and before I step to the plate I just try to relax, take a few deep breaths and focus.'
It will take this kind of focus and determination from each member of the Stanford squad to help the Cardinal return to their winning ways after losing four of its last six Pac-10 games. Mirroring a similar stretch of Pac-10 play from late April of 2001, Fuld says that, 'It kind of reminds me of last year when we lost a couple of series to Cal and USC, but we are good at not panicking. We know how good we are and by no means is the season over. We have just as good of a shot as anybody to make it to Omaha. I think that again the experience factor helps, and I know that we are going to bounce back.'
As Stanford faces off against its foe from across the Bay this weekend, look for Fuld to make a large contribution to spark the offense. Moreover, since Cal took the 2001 Pac-10 series two victories to one, there's that much more incentive for the Cardinal to take it to the Golden Bears this weekend. As the rest of the Stanford lineup rebuilds its confidence at the plate, look for a strong rebound from the Cardinal. Who knows, maybe this weekend the chatter out of the dugout will be 'Battle 'em like Bammer.'
And since hitting is contagious, number five could be the focal point of this rally. Jump on the Sam wagon, all aboard!
by Christopher P. Curtis