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THE CITADEL BASEBALL OUTFIELD
With Ten Southern Conference championships and another 10 trips to NCAA Regional play, The Citadel’s baseball program has been built on consistency and the maximizing of the potential of its players.<
By Art Chase and Geoff Wiswell
Published: Summer 2000
The Citadel’s military environment instills discipline required for success both on the field, in the weightroom and in the classroom.
With an extensive off-season strength and conditioning program, The Citadel’s starting outfield of Daryl Byrd, Stuart Jordan and Chris Morris aims to help the Bulldogs to their third consecutive Southern Conference championship and the program’s fifth berth in the NCAA Regionals in the last seven seasons.
The trio – which combined for 83 stolen bases in 1999 as the Bulldogs went 41-20 and captured both the Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles – entered the 2000 season as the nation’s top returning outfield for thefts. Morris established a Southern Conference single- season record with 52 steals in 1999 which tied for third nationally. Byrd picked up 20 stolen bases a year ago and Jordan chipped in 11.
“With the assistance of strength and conditioning coach Todd Lair, these three young men have put themselves in a position to be very successful on the baseball field,” said ninth-year Bulldog head coach Fred Jordan. “Coach Lair has done an outstanding job for our entire team with his rigorous program. We’ve been able to improve on our speed times and weightlifting numbers at every position and it has showed on the field.”
Through the first 28 games, The Citadel stands at 19-9 including an 8-1 ledger in league play, good for first place. The Bulldogs have posted 108 stolen bases as a team compared to just 18 for their opponents and are out-hitting the opposition, .327-to-.252.
“The main thing we worked on was the players’ quickness, agility and explosion,” said Lair. “In baseball, speed and quickness can kill opposing teams. We’ve worked extensively on base running from getting an explosive first step to taking proper angles when approaching the basses.”
“Another thing that really helps is the 15-to-20 minutes of stretching we do each day,” Lair continued. “This is an important factor in increasing flexibility and helping to prevent injuries.”
Byrd, Jordan and Morris each were successful on the field in 1999, but have gotten off to fast starts in 2000, primarily due to their individual habits off the field. “All three do a great job of getting into the weightroom and working their behinds off,” Lair said.
Often regarded as The Citadel’s toughest ballplayer, Byrd’s simple approach yields high dividends. “No superstitions, just hard work,” said the West Columbia, SC native who spends his days student teaching at James B. Edwards Elementary School before returning to campus for afternoon practices and games.
A role player during his first two seasons in the Bulldog diamond program, Byrd splashed onto the scene in 1999 as The Citadel’s designated hitter. He responded by batting .331 with three home runs and 36 RBI’s. In addition, he led the Southern Conference in times hit by pitch with 14.
“Daryl is a true example of hard-nosed baseball,” Fred Jordan said. “He sprints on and off the field and will do whatever is necessary for his team to win. He’s one of those players you hate to play against.”
Byrd’s hot start this season has helped the Bulldogs win eight of their first nine league games. The left fielder is batting.380 with three home runs, 25 RBI’s and eight stolen bases.
With a keen understanding that speed is his greatest attribute, Morris has battled back from a high school injury to become one of The Citadel’s most potent base stealers ever. Following his final high school game, the Andrews, SC native suffered a dislocated left leg in a freak accident. “The doctors didn’t know if I could get back to where I was with my speed,” Morris recalled. “Luckily, there was no ligament damage.”
Despite visiting The Citadel in a wheelchair, head coach Fred Jordan had the confidence that Morris would return to form and kept his scholarship offer on the table. “When I left the locker room after meeting Coach Jordan that day, I knew I was coming to The Citadel,” Morris said. “Over the summer, I went to physical therapy and just worked as hard as I could to get my leg back in shape.”
Since arriving in Charleston, Morris has become one of the nation’s top base-stealing threats. After setting a Southern Conference record and finishing third in the country with his 52 thefts in 1999, the 5’8”, 175-pound, switch-hitting, lead-off hitter didn’t set any goals for 2000 other than “getting on base and being aggressive”.
“Chris Morris has the ability to put so much pressure on a pitcher, catcher and entire defense,” said an opposing coach. “His speed is just incredible. As far as I’m concerned, the best place for him is in the dugout.”
Not bad for a player who was upset with his fastest recorded time in the 60-yard dash. When asked if disappointed with his 6.52 time prior to the season, Morris responded, “Oh yeah, I wanted six-four real bad.”
Morris, an All-Southern conference selection in 1999 who has picked up a league-leading 39 stolen bases through the first 28 games of 2000, points to both his head coach and teammates for motivation. “We look at how hard Coach Jordan works for us,” Morris said. “And that makes us work hard. Your teammates really push you. You compete against yourself and against the numbers, but everyone cheers on everyone.” Morris adds, “Also, the coaches say things like, ‘I think [North Carolina outfielder] Tyrell Godwin’s faster than you,’ and stuff like that to get me going.”
Stuart Jordan, at 6’2” and 220 pounds, is the most imposing figure of the threesome and batted .305 with 15 doubles and 35 RBI’s a season ago. In addition to his left-handed power to all fields at the plate, this Marietta, Georgian has shown his versatility by switching from left field to right field in preparation for the 2000 campaign.
“Last year, Stuart made a very smooth transition to play left field after serving as our designated hitter in 1998,” Fred Jordan said. “This year, we asked him to move to right field and he has successfully done that. Stuart is a very good athlete and has become one of the top run-throw- and hit guys in our conference.”
Jordan credits his choice of diet for his peak physical condition. He stays away from fast and fried foods as well as carbonated water. The Waffle House is a popular stop for breakfast, where he typically orders six egg whites, two chicken breasts, steamed hash browns and dry wheat toast. “I get some funny looks from the cooks when they get my order,” says Jordan. “They peak around the corner like, “Who ordered that?!” Jordan also favors snacks of cans of tuna (about three a day) and protein supplement shakes. As for superstitions, Jordan puts in the same one- hour lifting session prior to every game.
Hitting two slots behind Morris in the number three position, Jordan is off to a .317 start with eight stolen bases. Earlier this year, he had a 19-game hitting streak, the sixth-longest in school history.
As for the class work, all three Bulldogs earned spots on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll with semester grade point averages of 3.0 or better with Morris leading the way with a 3.813 average.
Eligibility-wise, all three are juniors and scheduled to graduate on time. For red-shirts Byrd and Jordan, graduation is this spring. However, both are looking forward to returning for their final year of eligibility. The Bulldog staff is looking forward to it also.
“Having three returning starters in the outfield this year has been tremendous for us,” says Coach Jordan. “Having three, three-year starters out there next year is something I don’t think we’ve ever had here and I can’t wait to see it.”
Name Ht. Wt. Bench Squat Total 60-yd
Daryl Byrd 5’10” 180 345 515 890 6.82
Chris Morris 5’8” 175 370 425 795 6.52
Stuart Jordan 6’2” 220 375 455 830 6.63