Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 1, 2004
Records are meant to be broken.
Throughout the past couple of years, many baseball records have been shattered.
The biggest being Barry Bonds' allntime single season home run mark of 73 in 2001.
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During that time, Mal Winters, a 2000 graduate of Fort Dale Academy, was just starting his collegiate baseball career as a rightnhanded pitcher for Troy State University. The thought of breaking a school record never crossed his mind.
Last Friday night, the 22nyearnold Winters appeared in his 65th career game for the Trojans (28-11, 10-8 A-Sun) against Atlantic Sun rival Mercer breaking the school record for career appearances, which was previously held by Jason Fawcett. The Pine Apple, Ala., native picked up the win on the mound for TSU after allowing only one run on two hits and striking out four in two innings of work as the Trojans won 14n7.
"It feels great," Winters said. "It feels like during my four years here, I accomplished something pretty good. I'm just happy to have done it at Troy State. It's a real confidence booster."
His coach couldn't be more proud.
"I think the appearances record really says a lot about what Mal has done in his career at Troy," TSU Head Coach Bobby Pierce said. "He has pitched in all four years and has thrown in a lot of games. To be able to pitch in as many games as Mal has is a testament to how hard he works, not only to stay healthy, but to be able to go out time after time and get people out."
Winters, a 6nfootn3, 208-pound senior, has found a lot of success this season on the mound. He's compiled a 4n1 overall record and a 2n0 conference record in 16 appearances helping him to a 3.53 ERA. With the help of an 89 mph fastball, he's chalked up 39 strikeouts. He's only allowed nine walks and 14 earned runs.
"This is the best year I've had here and it's the best team I've been on," Winters said. "We've got great chemistry as a team and everybody works hard," Winters said. "Everybody comes ready to play everyday. Everybody plays as one team and contributes."
Winters' performances on the mound night in and night out has been a big factor in the Trojans' success on the diamond this season.
"Mal is a guy you love to have on your staff," Pierce said. "He can go out there whenever you need him, whether it may be as a starter or a reliever. He has been a big part of our success this season. He has come into some big games in some tough situations and kept us in position to pick up some big wins."
Winters has seen time on both Troy's starting rotation and in the bullpen this season. He believes entering games from the bullpen has a lot to do with the success he's found this year.
"I started off the season in the bullpen, then I started and I came back to the bullpen," Winters explained. "I think being in the bullpen has helped to me to give it all I've got instead of trying to save something and just go out there and give the team everything I've got every time I go out. Plus, it's my senior year and I want to end on a good note."
Winters will receive a degree in social science this year with a business minor. He hasn't been scouted by any Major League Baseball clubs, but would like to have the opportunity to continue his baseball career.
"Maybe I'll get picked up, you never know," Winters said. "I would like to play baseball for a little while, but if that doesn't work out then it's fine. I had a good career and met a lot of good guys. If I play, then I'll play and it would be great, but if I don't then that's no big deal."