After helping the Washington Baseball team to its best season in a decade with 41 wins, a school-record No. 5 ranking and a berth in the NCAA Regional finals on the road against Ole Miss, Braden Bishop did not go on vacation. Instead, the All-Pac-12 Defensive team outfielder headed east to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
The junior-to-be recently returned from his summer in Massachusetts with the Brewster Whitecaps and chatted with GoHuskies.com about his experience. He also reflected on the Huskies historic season that saw four Huskies earn All-Pac-12 honors – and Lindsay Meggs earn Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors – and a school record eight players selected in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft.
Bishop is excited to build on last year’s phenomenal season and step into a leadership role with the 2015 Huskies. With Bishop’s return, along with All-Pac-12 catcher Austin Rei and All-America pitcher Tyler Davis – plus a plethora of other vital returnees, he is excited to get back to work in September.
Bishop stands in awe of Fenway Park’s green monster during scout day.
GoHuskies.com: Can you tell us about your experience this summer in the Cape Cod league?
Bishop: “It was pretty amazing to be with guys from all over the country. Definitely some of the best players I have been with. It was definitely something that challenged me every day, and forced me to step my game up a little bit to play with those guys.”
GoHuskies.com: You played a lot of baseball on the Cape. What was that like for you?
Bishop: “It was interesting because I had never played every single day like that. Usually I am used to Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday. Playing everyday was a new experience because I really had to work on smaller points in my game, especially mentally. You could go 0-for-4 two days in a row and be 0-for-8, but then you have that third day and have two or three hits and you would be right back on it. So it was a good experience and I liked it a lot. It challenged me in more ways than one.”
GoHuskies.com: What was it like adjusting to using wood bats?
Bishop: “I love hitting with wood. That experience was good for me. The last time I had hit wood in a game was my senior years of high school. The first couple games were interesting because you are facing a 92 or a 94 with a wood bat. You have got to be fine and make sure your swing is quick, and you are to the ball or your bat is going to shatter in half. I only had two going into the last game, and broke my third. Not as many as the other guys but I lost a couple.”
GoHuskies.com: Was there any added pressure on playing in front of a bunch of scouts?
Bishop: “I think anytime there are people in the stands it adds a little pressure, but I think the biggest thing is realizing that if you go and play hard they will see that, and how you carry yourself; especially how you react to different situations in the game. There is a little added pressure but you try not to get caught up in it.”
GoHuskies.com: So did you duplicate your regular season feat of robbing a pair of home runs?
Bishop: “I caught one up against the fence. I caught it while hitting the fence. It probably wouldn’t have gone over but it was as close as I came.”
GoHuskies.com: Is playing on the Cape just like what we saw in the movie Summer Catch?
Bishop: “I watched it before, while I was there, and after. I never saw Jessica Biel so I was a little disappointed.”
GoHuskies.com: Did you get a chance to try the food that is regional for the Cape?
Bishop: “We definitely explored different food options. My host mom had like three lobster dinners for us. When you get an appetizer out there, it’s clam chowder.”
GoHuskies.com: Can you reflect on this past season with the Huskies and why you think that team was so successful?
Bishop: “I think first and foremost I can always come back to the coaches. They prepared us unbelievably well for what we went through. It started last September in our first meeting, when coach Meggs told us that the only way we were going to be successful was with player driven leadership. We had a group of guys that were definitely cognizant of that. Looking back on it, it is definitely a season I will never forget, and that group of guys I will never forget. It was definitely one of the best groups I have ever played with, and one of the most talented as you can tell by how many people went on to play pro ball.”
GoHuskies.com: How much are you going to miss the eight guys that moved on after getting drafted?
Bishop: “I am definitely going to miss them. I still talk to most of them on a regular basis. It is going to be a different atmosphere that’s for sure. I couldn’t be happier for all of them though because they all deserve it. They are definitely getting what they worked for.”
GoHuskies.com: Now that you are an upperclassmen are you ready to take on a leadership role with this team?
Bishop: “I love that opportunity. I am definitely going to take advantage of it. I don’t really see it as a control thing because that’s not the way I have really led. We have a great group of leaders. We have Josh Fredendall coming back for us, so that’s huge for us. Alex Schmidt, Brandon Berry, we have good group of guys. It is going to be easy being around those guys. As long as I play hard and play the game how coach wants us to, I think the younger guys will follow; not just me but the other guys as well.”
GoHuskies.com: Have you sat down with the other returnees and laid out your goals for the upcoming season?
Bishop: “We have definitely talked a good amount. I talk to Alex on the regular; I talk to Josh on the regular. I think it is a little early right now, but in the next couple weeks we will start talking more to see what our goals are and see what we all have in mind for the season. I think the common theme for us is how hard we can play, and everything else will take care of itself.”
GoHuskies.com: What do you think is going to drive you and your teammates this season?
Braden Bishop: “I think the biggest motivation for us is that we got a taste of what (success) was like, but now we know what it takes to get there. We lost a lot of guys, but we also have a lot of guys coming back form that team. Tyler Davis, the rest of the pitching staff, me, Austin (Rei), Brandon, Alex, Chris Baker, all of us who got time in that regional. That is definitely going to help us and provide motivation if we want to get back there we know what it takes.”