Athlete Spotlight: Taconic's Cedric Rose
After helping his Taconic baseball team clinch a spot in the 2018 Western Massachusetts Division III Tournament, Braves senior Cedric Rose hopped in his car and drove to The Eagle on Friday night for this week's Athlete Spotlight. Rose was a big part of a sectional football championship and state baseball championship as a junior, and has been working to make a similar mark as the returning veteran this spring. The power-hitting righty chatted with The Eagle about that magical state title run, playing under coach Kevin Stannard, trying out for the swim team and much more.
Berkshire Eagle: What's the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's state champion?
Cedric Rose: The bond, really. It's been more getting used to the kids this year. The bond we had last year was just inseparable. I personally was always under them in school, but I always hung out with them, and it was that bond that made it a truly special team. This year, at first, that wasn't there. And I had to get used to that and try to create that, because without it, everyone is playing for themselves and it just doesn't click. It started a little while ago, but it needed to develop on its own.
BE: With how strong the 2017 team was, you were forced to DH. What was that like?
CR: I definitely felt that I could have played on that team, but it's a matter of knowing your role. I knew I was the DH and I had no problem with that. I knew that me trying to be selfish and think that I should be playing over somebody, that's just not how you win games. I knew my role.
BE: How'd you keep yourself engaged while not in the field?
CR: That bench was tight. We had a lot of fun. We knew how to chirp and have fun, but also how to stay in the game and be aware and keep our mindset straight.
BE: Looking back on the state semifinal win over Wachusett [12-11, extra-inning comeback], have you wrapped your head around that incredible night?
CR: That was one of the craziest baseball games I've ever seen. It was nuts. I honestly couldn't tell you play-by-play, I was just so focused on the game and what was happening, what I needed to do next. I remember Jake [McNeice] hitting that game-winner, though. We chased him down before he even got to first base and mobbed him.
BE: What's next for you after you wrap up this senior season?
CR: I'm going to take the first semester at BCC to get used to the college thing, and then I'll be transferring over to MCLA and playing baseball there.
BE: Who was the toughest pitcher you've faced?
CR: Well, I never faced Izaiya Mestre. I caught him a few times, and he's a great pitcher. I think sophomore year I faced Westfield's Ryan Towle and I wasn't really used to varsity pitching yet. I could not catch up to his fastball. Not a lot of people can blow it by me, I've got a quick bat, but his fastball down the middle — I couldn't touch.
BE: What can you tell me about playing for a longtime coach in Kevin Stannard?
CR: You can tell the veteran difference. Coach Stannard knows the game like the back of his hand. He knows, when something is going wrong, what the potential outcome is. So he can fix it, because he's seen it so many times before. It's probably some flashback in his head. He's been coaching here longer than I've been alive.
BE: What's your repertoire when you're pitching?
CR: I go fastball, curveball, changeup. I'm throwing mid-to-high 70s on a good day. I can hit 80 max, but I've been working on my curve forever. As a kid, David Glass came up and was throwing to us getting ready for the state Little League tournament. He was throwing a curve that was moving like crazy. After practice I went up to him and asked him to show me how to throw it. It's my best pitch right now.
BE: You're also a longtime starter for Taconic football. What's the biggest hit you've taken as a running back?
CR: I remember sophomore year, Bacon [Anthony Whiteley] wound up getting hurt towards the end of the season and couldn't play the Western Mass. finals game against Hoosac Valley. I remember having to start against big, old hitting Hoosac with [Jameson] Coughlan and all those big guys. Coach called a `30 Dive' where I just get the ball and go right up the middle. As soon as I got the ball, I looked up and all I could see was three ginormous Hoosac lineman. Strongest ones out there. They just buried me. Swallowed me whole. It was a scary moment.
BE: The following year was a magical set of seasons for Taconic. You won the Western Mass. football title as a junior. What was that like?
CR: Similar bond. Different guys, but similar bond. We all hung out. Tyrell Council, Justyn Santiago, they didn't really play baseball. Jake Galliher, Zach Gage, all those guys, we all hung out. McNeice, Devon Walker, Jack Cooney, Bacon, Brandon Peaslee. We just all combined and had that connection. Nick Mance, I'm forgetting guys, but it was just a similar connection and so much fun.
BE: You joined the swim team this winter for the first time. What was behind that decision?
CR: Oh, that was rough. But it was just to keep me doing something, keep me in shape. I played basketball at the CYC, but I wanted to get away and try something different. My cousin, Trevor Johnston, who played catcher for Saint Joseph, told me swimming would get me in shape and get my arm right for baseball. Got my swim stuff, was super psyched when I found out I didn't have to wear the super short speedo, I had the ones down to the knee. But that sport is tough. I've always been a good swimmer, learning from a young age, but you use more muscles swimming than you do doing anything else. And you're holding your breath. It was a great workout and I saw a lot of improvements when it got to baseball season. I recommend it to anyone.
BE: Pregame warmups at Taconic; what are you listening to right now?
CR: Right now, it's getting to be summertime, and I just absolutely love Mary J. Blige. She's the perfect summertime music to listen to.
BE: What's your spot to eat in Pittsfield?
CR: Applebee's is the favorite. Everybody loves Applebee's. Half-priced apps is the place to be.
BE: What are you binging on Netflix right now?
CR: "Bill Nye Saves the World."
BE: What's the coolest place you've gotten to go play baseball?
CR: Joe Bruno Stadium out in Troy, N.Y., my sophomore year. There was a bathroom in the dugout, blew my mind. There was a hallway that led from the dugout into the clubhouse. Before the game we were hanging out waiting for something and we went in and checked it out. The locker room, there was a ping-pong and pool table, TV set up, couches. It was so sweet. There was another room off it with two batting cages and someone from the Tri-City Valleycats hitting. It was really cool.
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