In Focus: Behind the Mask
Ty Ross Exudes Confidence as LSU's Catcher
The catcher position is often labeled as one of the more demanding positions on the baseball diamond. Over the past two years junior catcher Ty Ross has made the taxing work behind the plate appear effortless.
"It all starts with me," Ross said. "Everyone on the field is looking at me behind the dish. I'm the main guy that has to be even keel all season. That's something I've really been working on."
Ross has been a reliable force behind the plate since first putting on his purple and gold facemask.
As a freshman, Ross started 46 games at catcher. He believes the early playing time helped him develop into the player that he is today.
"In my freshman year I had big shoes to fill in (former LSU catcher) Micah Gibbs," Ross said. "But being thrown into the fire definitely helped. Now everything just comes much easier."
During his time at LSU, Ross has developed a special bond with members of the Tigers' pitching staff. Ross believes a catcher's confidence and composure are key to a pitcher's success.
"Your pitchers have to feel like they can throw any pitch, and you have to be able to block it and catch it," Ross said. "The more relaxed you are, the pitcher feeds off of it."
In his first season with the Tigers, Ross experienced some growing pains offensively. In the following offseason, he remained determined to improve in the batter's box.
"I lost some weight, worked on my bat speed and worked on hitting the ball the other way," Ross said. "I knew I needed to play better than I did my freshman year."
In 2012 Ross did exactly that. In April of his sophomore season, he surpassed his overall hit total from his freshman season. In the same month, Ross delivered a game-winning walk-off single against Arkansas.
Near the end of his sophomore season, it appeared that nothing could slow down Ross' offensive success. However, as the Tigers began their final home conference series of the season, Ross began to feel differently.
"After the first game of the Vanderbilt series, I had some uncomfortable pain in my lower abdominal area," Ross said. "I woke up the next morning in excruciating pain. Before I knew it I was on the bed being rolled into surgery."
As his teammates were preparing to take on Vanderbilt, Ross was undergoing an emergency appendectomy.
After the surgery, doctors advised Ross to stay away from baseball for three weeks. However, Ross was behind the plate 11 days later.
"It puts a lot of things in perspective," Ross said. "It makes you value everyday you are able to be out here on the baseball field."
Ross would finish his sophomore season batting .292; 69 points higher than his freshman season.
Off the field, Ross was just as successful. In his sophomore season, he was named to the 2012 SEC Academic Honor Roll.
"After a weekend series, you have to come back and grind down homework on Sunday night," Ross said. "Time management is definitely something that I have learned a lot. It's helped me in all aspects of my life.
"I was drafted out of high school, but I wanted to come to college. Education is what everything in life is built on. I'm lucky to be able to play baseball and get my degree at this awesome university."
This season, Ross looks to continue his recent success. He feels that this year's team can do the same.
"I feel really great about this team," Ross said. "We click on a lot of different cylinders. My goal is to help the seniors that haven't been to the College World Series get there and be successful when we get there. This team is going to do special things."