Tyler White to Headline 2017 ‘Celebration of Catamount Baseball’

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Press release courtesy of Daniel Hooker/Assistant AD for Media Relations

Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina head baseball coach Bobby Moranda today announced the details for the 2017 “Celebration of Catamount Baseball,” to be held Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 in the Grand Room of the A.K. Hinds University Center.

For a third time over the past four years, a former Catamount baseball player who has played in the Major Leagues will headline the event. Former WCU All-America infielder – and current Houston Astros first baseman – Tyler White will be honored at this year’s banquet. White follows previous WCU/MLB keynote speakers in right-handed pitchers, Greg Holland and Jared Burton.

In addition to honoring White, this year's “Celebration of Catamount Baseball” fundraiser banquet will also include a reflection and recap of the 2016 Southern Conference tournament championship run and NCAA post-season appearance; an introduction of the 2017 Catamount baseball captains and team; and introduction of the 2017 Leggett No. 7 Legacy recipient.

“It is with great pride and honor that we welcome back Tyler White for this year’s ‘Celebration of Catamount Baseball,’” said Moranda. “Tyler enjoyed great success as a player here at Wester Carolina, and is a continued source of pride for our program with his accomplishments in the Major Leagues. His rise from a recruited walk-on to All-American to a Major Leaguer was – and is – a huge part of what Catamount baseball is all about. We want to invite all of Tyler’s former teammates – as well as all the greats from WCU’s baseball past – to come home to Cullowhee for this celebration of our past, present, and future.”

The event gets underway at 5:00 pm with a special meet-and-greet social hour, followed by the dinner and program at 6:00 pm. The cost to attend this year’s “Celebration of Catamount Baseball” fundraiser banquet is $75 per person, or a table reserved for eight for $500. RSVP’s are requested by Monday, Jan. 30.

All funds raised through this event will directly support the operation of the WCU baseball program. Make checks payable to the “WCU Foundation,” with “Catamount Baseball” in the memo. To reserve your spot at the 2017 "Celebration of Catamount Baseball” fundraiser banquet, please contact Volunteer Assistant Coach Kyle Dean in the WCU Baseball office by E-mail at kdean@email.wcu.edu or by phone at (828) 227-2022.

White was an All-America selection during his four-year career for the Catamounts, earning 2013 Southern Conference Player of the Year honors as a senior. He batted .325 during his career and averaged nearly 72 hits per season including 77 multi-hit games with multiple RBIs 42 times. His 287 career base hits ranked him fifth in program history while his 64 career doubles ranked third all-time.

Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, White rapidly progressed through the organization’s minor league system and in less than three seasons, earned a 2016 Opening Day roster spot. The Forest City, N.C., native delivered a pinch-hit single in his first MLB plate appearance – and did so at iconic Yankee Stadium in New York, N.Y., no less. He went on to claim American League Player of the Week plaudits for the opening week of the 2016 season, batting .556 with three homers and nine RBI.

White finished his rookie season with a .217 batting average, collecting 54 hits including 16 doubles and eight home runs with a combined 28 RBI.

The first-ever "Celebration of Catamount Baseball" banquet was on Feb. 9, 2008 in Asheville. Former Catamount head coaches Jack Leggett and Bill Haywood were honored that evening, including special introductions by former players and Hall of Fame members Wayne Tolleson and Phillip Grundy. In the second event, Leggett delivered the keynote address with WCU and Moranda creating the "Leggett No. 7 Legacy" to honor one Catamount player each season.

In installing the gathering back in 2008, Moranda was quoted as saying, "It is my humble obligation and duty to honor those great players and teams that have come before our current personnel. My dream is to realize the long lasting program goal of traveling the 1,002 miles to compete in Omaha, home of the College World Series. But we need your financial support to reach that dream."

Moranda added, "Your support is greatly appreciated as we work to continue the winning tradition of Catamount baseball, and strive for our 24th Southern Conference championship and return to the NCAA post-season."

Western Carolina’s 2017 schedule will be unveiled in the coming weeks prior to the banquet. The Catamounts are slated to open the 2017 season February 17-19.