William & Mary infielder/outfielder Chris Rahl recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Rahl is one of the top players in the Colonial Athletic Association and is a returning junior for the Tribe. After becoming the first-ever CAA player to hit twenty homeruns and steal forty bases in the same season a year ago, he was recently named to the NCBWA Preseason First Team All-America.
The Tribe opened the 2005 season with three straight wins. Through five games, Rahl is hitting .458 with four doubles, one triple, and a homerun.
CHRIS RAHL, COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY
SCS.com: Coming out of high school, what other colleges did you consider, and why did you ultimately choose William & Mary?
Rahl: "I wasn’t interested in many schools other than William and Mary. Appalachian State and a bunch of good junior colleges were really the only other considerations that I had. The main junior college that I was considering was Young Harris Junior College in Georgia. In the end, the combination of academics and the good Division I status of William & Mary helped me make up my mind."
SCS.com: You led the Colonial Athletic Assocation in hits (88), triples (8), homers (20), total bases (174) and steals (41) (some of these school records) and also had a batting average of .400 for the 2004 season, your sophomore year. What allows you to be able to hit for power and lead the league in homeruns while also being able to hit for a great average?
Rahl: "The main thing that I think allows me to do both is pitch selection. By making sure I pick out good pitches, I am able to hit for a high average, but also by getting the pitch I think I can do the most damage on, I can also hit for power."
SCS.com: In 2004, you became the first-ever CAA player to hit 20 homeruns and steal 40 bases in the same season. You were named the Colonial Athletic Association's Player of the Year following that season, the first-ever sophomore to earn that honor. Explain what that award means to you.
Rahl: "It means that all my hard work paid off, and I was proud to be the first sophomore, not only for my own recognition but mainly because I was able to represent William & Mary and show everyone that we have a great program."
SCS.com: Not only have you been recognized in your league but also nationally. You were selected as one of only thirty finalists nation-wide for the Dick Howser Trophy (national player of the year) last year, and just last month you were named to the 2005 National College Baseball Writer's Assocation Preseason First Team All-America. What does this national exposure mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Rahl: "It is always nice to be recognized, but I am happy for the school because the awards will help improve the status of our baseball program. Hopefully more young players will become interested in William & Mary, and the program will continue to improve year after year."
SCS.com: You helped lead William & Mary to a school-record 37 wins in 2004, but it was not enough to earn a NCAA berth. The Tribe was knocked out of the CAA Tournament in just two games. How disappointing was that, and will it provide motivation for this year's team?
Rahl: "It was disappointing to go home so soon after a great year, but we were proud of the year that we as a team put together. It just means that this year we will continue to work harder, and we will be motivated that much more to win the tournament and continue onto (NCAA) regionals."
SCS.com: Seven position players return from that record-setting team a year ago. What are the expectations for this year, and how do you feel this season will play out?
Rahl: "I think expectations this year are very high, but I think that we can’t continue to think about the expectations of everyone else. As long as we do the little things and continue to play as a team, I think we will have another very successful season, and hopefully this year we can make it to (the NCAA) regionals."
SCS.com: Playing at a college like William & Mary allows you to visit bigger, more well-known schools for games throughout the season. The 2005 schedule has trips to ACC teams like NC State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Do you enjoy visiting the bigger schools' ballparks, and how do you find the atmosphere on the road in general?
Rahl: "Well, everyone enjoys playing at their home park in front of their home crowd the most. However, I do also enjoy traveling and having the chance to play in parks that I have never played in before. It makes the game that much more fun and exciting."
SCS.com: A school-record four players were drafted in the 2003 MLB Draft, and your teammate, pitcher Bill Bray, was the 13th overall selection in last year's Draft. With you following in those guys' footsteps, have you talked to any of them about the process, and if so, what advice have they given you?
Rahl: "Yes, they have suggested to just concentrate on the college season and have fun playing, not to put too much unneeded pressure on myself. I have heard many people say that the draft will take care of itself and I shouldn’t worry about it...just play my game."
SCS.com: Your head coach, Jim Farr, is a former major league player and has done a great job at William & Mary in his 13 seasons there. In 2001, he led the school to its first NCAA Tournament berth in nearly 20 years. What makes Coach Farr such a great coach?
Rahl: "He has been around the game for a while and has experience at the highest level of competition. He knows more about the game than most coaches at the college level do. He works mostly with the pitchers, but he also helps our hitters with the mental side of how pitchers try to pitch to certain batters."
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Rahl: "Hitting a walk-off grand slam my freshman year of college on the first pitch I had ever seen in college baseball. The game was played against Georgetown, and it was the home opener. I pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to off the field?
Rahl: "My mother. She is a stroke survivor. She had a stroke before my freshman year at college, and I have watched her fight though her recovery and she has been an inspiration to me."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Rahl: "Playing the guitar, lifting weights, reading, movies, and hanging out with family."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give him?
Rahl: "Continue to get better each and every day. Never put something off 'til tomorrow that can be achieved or done today."
SCS.com would again like to thank William & Mary's Chris Rahl for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Tribe the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
|Copyright © 2004 SouthernCollegeSports.com. All rights reserved. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.|