Outfielder Derek Fisher says he hadn't been in Charlottesville long when he learned a big lesson about fall baseball at Virginia.
"You can't rely on the coaches to answer all your questions," Fisher, now a junior, recalled at practice on Thursday. "Because, with all the guys here, it's too much."
Instead, Fisher found himself turning to some of his veteran teammates on that team from two seasons ago -- players like outfielder Colin Harrington and shortstop Chris Taylor -- when he needed advice.
"The answers that I got from them meant as much, if not more than what the coaches told you on a day-to-day basis," Fisher said.
Now Fisher says this fall, he's one of the veterans giving the advice, instead of seeking it.
"I catch myself hearing the same questions that I asked as a first-year," Fisher said, "and also I give the same answers that I received as a first-year."
The Cavaliers opened fall ball two weekends ago, with Fisher among seven everyday starters back from last year's NCAA Super Regional team. For coach Brian O'Connor and his staff, this fall has been about pushing to talented veterans to another level.
"When you have a veteran, experienced lineup like we do, certainly there's comfort in it," said O'Connor. "But the challenge is that you have to keep pressing forward. They can't look at fall baseball as they're just trying to get through it. They've got to look at it as we're trying to improve as a ballclub."
O'Connor's team has played a pair of scrimmages so far this fall. On Saturday morning, High Point will come to Davenport Field for an exhibition game.
"Fortunately, I've been here for, this will be my third year doing a fall game," Fisher said. "And we've always gotten better in these games, and that's always the goal. And we're looking for obviously the same thing, this time around."
O'Connor expects Fisher to be among the veteran Cavaliers in Saturday's starting lineup. But for the UVa coach, things will get really interesting when UVa's older players give way to that new class of freshmen.
"You get a chance for them, to see those players in a situation where winning does matter. And there are fans in the stands that expect Virginia baseball to have success," O'Connor said. "So it'll be a little bit different feeling for those kids, and that's a big reason I'm looking forward to Saturday."
"The big thing with us is just learning Virginia baseball," said Fisher. "And now, obviously, I've been here for three years, it's kind of a way of life now. So it's more so showing the young guys how we do things here. And for that matter, they're catching on incredibly well."
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