By: Gabe Taylor '12
Mike Couch still remembers March 26, 2010; the first time he officially stepped onto the mound as a Bronco.
"I was just soaking in the moment," said Couch, who was called in from the dugout in Santa Clara's 19-4 route of Princeton.
Couch posted a scoreless inning – and recorded his first strikeout - despite giving up two hits.
"I wanted to do perfect. I wanted to show them that year of sitting out was worth it," said Couch, a Bellarmine College Prep grad.
Having his good friend Jeff Klein catching for him helped diminish the nerves.
The debut came a year after Couch entered the Mission Campus, due to red-shirting his freshman year.
"I just wasn't ready to pitch at the DI level," said Couch. "I was good in high school and I had good stuff, so that gave me the opportunity to come here. But I just wasn't ready to face hitters up here yet."
During his red-shirt season, Couch began to pick up a certain mindset that is necessary for success in collegiate baseball.
"It's not just a different game, it's a different way of acting; carrying yourself," said Couch, admitting that he noticed a positive change in his maturity level.
His opportunity to display what he learned as a red-shirt freshman came in 2010 and 2011. Over the course of last season, Couch pitched nine-innings as a reliever. On May 27, he strung together a perfect inning against the Portland Pilots.
But now, the plans have changed. Couch is no longer a reliever, but rather a starting pitcher. With the start of the season approaching, Couch is keying in on his approach. Conditioning and consistency are necessary attributes of a starting pitcher.
Instead of facing hitters once, he will be expected to throw to them – and get them out - multiple times a game. Instead of relying on two pitches to result in outs, Couch is adding in his changeup and polishing up his "out pitch," the slider.
He will be counted on more than ever before.
"I want to be a starter the whole year; I want to be in the rotation the whole year," said Couch. "I want to help us win."