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The Orion

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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Senior catcher thrives in Wildcat baseball program

Peter Miller, catcher for the Chico State baseball team, practices for an upcoming coming game. Miller's efforts helped the Wildcats achieve the conference lead in least amount of stolen bases last season. Photo credit: Zach Aucella

In baseball every ground ball and pop fly counts, every at-bat sends a message and every practice is the difference between playing a part in the starting lineup or not.

According to Dave Taylor, the baseball team’s head coach, returning senior catcher Peter Miller has made all of his opportunities count since arriving at Chico State.

Miller transferred to Chico State from the University of the Pacific in Stockton with an injured lower back, causing him to redshirt his first season with the ‘Cats.

As disappointed as Miller was about redshirting, it helped him see the overall picture and understand the Wildcats’ system, philosophy and level of play, Taylor said.

According to Taylor, the Division I transfer was not expected to be the No. 1 catcher going into last year’s season.

“He took advantage of the time he got early in the spring and at some point, we decided to go with Peter from there,” Taylor said.

Miller ended up playing a crucial role during his junior year in the 2014 season.

“He was a captain as a junior, which there’s not too many guys in this program that have been captains as juniors,” Taylor said, “and not even captains going in as the No. 1 guy going into the season.”

Last season, the Wildcats led the conference in least amount of stolen bases, and part of that was because of Miller’s leadership behind the plate, Taylor said.

According to senior pitcher Luke Barker, Miller showed up in critical moments last season.

“It felt like every time we needed a big hit, Pete was at the plate, and he was coming through with a big hit,” Barker said.

With Miller’s help, the Wildcats made it all the way to the 2014 College World Series where they lost in an elimination game against the University of Tampa.

Having lost in the playoffs last spring, Miller said that he wants a little more for his team this season.

“We just want to get back to where we were and handle business unlike last year,” he said.

This season, Miller is returning as one of the team’s captains.

According to Barker, Miller works hard for the players around him and takes the necessary steps in trying to make the team better as a whole.

“His energy and intensity is kind of contagious,” Barker said. “He’s one of those guys that if you’re not doing your job he’s going to let you know.”

So far, Miller has been successful at Chico State because he is a hard worker, humble and confident, according to Taylor.

“Peter always felt grateful for the opportunity that he got and mixed in immediately well with his teammates,” Taylor said, “as far as just being a guy and not feeling like he was bigger and better than anybody else because he’s been at a Division I school.”

The transition into the Chico State baseball program was easier than it was at University of the Pacific, Miller said.

“I never felt welcomed at University of Pacific, but when I got to Chico it was a lot easier mixing in with the group,” he said.

Miller is supportive towards everybody on the team, Barker said.

“Pete has always got our back no matter whether it’s me or any of the younger guys,” he said.

Taylor said that when it comes down to it all, Miller has the whole package both on and off the field.

“The leadership, the character off the field, the academic part, the boxes check in all those areas with him, which translates into a great kid to have in the program,” Taylor said.

Miller is set to graduate this spring and hopes to be picked up by a big league team, he said.

If his plans of playing at the next level do not work out, he could always go into teaching with his degree in history and coaching baseball, Miller said.

He has already left his mark on the program and Taylor said that he hopes Miller can have a great senior season and get a shot at the next level.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and you remember the guys that you like to coach and (who) are respectful to what we are doing and buy in and have the complete package,” Taylor said, “Peter’s top five of any of those guys that I’ve had that bring his personality to the field everyday.”

Dylan Wakefield can be reached at [email protected] or @dylan_wakefield on Twitter.

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