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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

‘Selfless Servant’ Cole Bedford flourishing as Texas A&M’s starting catcher

Bedford
Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athlet
Bedford

Texas A&M assistant coach Jake Carlson couldn’t help but swell with pride as Cole Bedford rounded the bases after his go-ahead three-run home run against Iowa in last weekend’s Houston Regional.
It was the culmination of hours upon hours of hard work and dedication, and Bedford’s outgoing personality and infectious spirit make him an easy guy to root for.
“Nobody deserves success more than Cole Bedford,” Carlson, the Aggies’ second-year catching and first-base coach, told The Battalion on Thursday. “I was extremely proud of him. He’s the epitome of college baseball and Texas A&M baseball. He’s going to work every day for his brothers, punching the clock academically, socially and on the baseball field.
“He is more concerned about his teammates than himself. He shows up every day to work and gets better and better.”
Bedford, a redshirt sophomore catcher, is highly regarded around the A&M program for his tremendous leadership and work ethic. Whether it’s coming to the ballpark early before class to catch a pitcher’s bullpen session or going to the weight room on weekends to work out while his teammates are still sleeping, Bedford’s leadership and team-first attitude are always on display.
“He’s a selfless servant,” starting pitcher Brigham Hill says. “He comes in early and he stays late. He’s one of those guys that if he has a bad game it’s not because he’s not prepared. He leaves it all out on the field every day.”
“After practice he’s not going to hit by himself in the cage, he’s always bringing somebody with him,” senior outfielder Blake Kopetsky says. “All of our leaders are always trying to make someone else better and he’s one of those guys.”
The catcher position was a major question mark for A&M heading into the 2017 season following the departure of two-year starter Michael Barash, with Bedford and incoming freshman Hunter Coleman competing for the job. Bedford saw limited action the year before, taking over at one point late in the SEC schedule when Barash suffered a concussion, and the results left much to be desired.
Bedford hit .143 in 35 at-bats and admits he wasn’t ready for the fast pace of SEC play.
However, Bedford’s teammates and coaches still marvel at his unending spirit. Even when he was on the bench most games last year, he always stayed upbeat, maintained a positive attitude and tried to do whatever he could to help the team.
When he and Coleman were constantly rotating at catcher, they remained each other’s biggest cheerleader and pushed each other to work harder.
And since he has worked his way into the starting lineup this year, Bedford has blossomed into one of the Aggies’ key contributors — both behind the plate and in the batter’s box.
“He’s an incredible teammate,” Carlson says. “He’s more consumed with his teammates than himself and when you’re worried about everyone else but yourself — that’s when you have individual success, and Cole Bedford epitomizes that.”
The A&M coaching staff assumed at the beginning of the season that Bedford would be someone they would pencil in near the bottom of the order and who would maybe get a big hit every once in a while, but he has vastly exceeded those expectations.
The Deer Park product has batted all over the lineup for the Aggies, including critical spots like second and fifth, and is one of four players on the roster hitting over .300. He enters this weekend’s Super Regional against Davidson batting .306 with three home runs, 26 RBI and a .452 slugging percentage, which ranks second among A&M’s current starters.
“I knew if I stuck to our approach more consistently then I could have a little bit of success,” says Bedford, who is third on the team with 12 doubles. “I think I’ve been able to do that a little this year — I know it’s not even close to being perfect but I think I’ve done alright and I’m going to try to continue to get better.”
Bedford, who used his redshirt season after undergoing Tommy John surgery his senior year of high school, has also settled in behind the plate defensively for the Aggies. Since senior Joel Davis went down with a broken bone in his foot and Coleman slid over to first base, Bedford has been A&M’s every day catcher. He has caught every inning of A&M’s last eight games, playing error-free baseball behind the dish and continuing to impress.
Some of Bedford’s defensive improvements can be attributed to a personnel change the Aggies made at the beginning of the season — no more bullpen catchers. This year, instead of a walk-on or two catching the pitcher’s bullpen sessions in an attempt to save the starter’s legs, Bedford and Coleman are the ones back behind the plate honing their craft. This allowed Bedford to become more familiar with A&M’s pitching staff and better understand each pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses.
He knows what to say when he goes to the mound to talk to a struggling pitcher — whether to crack a joke or discuss strategy — and can relay to head coach Rob Childress which pitches are working on a given night and which are not.
“I’ve caught them all enough to be able to feel what they’re feeling,” Bedford says. “I just feel like I’m getting more comfortable pitch by pitch and I know what the pitchers are trying to do and where I need to set up for them. I just try to get a little better every day and do whatever I can to make sure that we have a good chance to win.”
Bedford’s ability to block pitches in the dirt allow the A&M pitchers to use their entire arsenal even with runners in scoring position.
“With as many offspeed pitches as I throw, it makes me more comfortable,” Hill says. “I know I can throw it in for a strike or a ball when I want to and I know he’s going to be a wall back there.”
Bedford, who sports a near-perfect .997 fielding percentage this season, is such an outstanding teammate that Carlson and the rest of the A&M staff has had to stress that not all situations require positivity. Sometimes, when a pitcher makes a mistake or doesn’t execute a pitch properly, Bedford has to get on them a little bit.
The 6-0, 200-pound backstop has all the tools of a great catcher: A strong arm to control the opposing team’s running game, always-improving receiving skills that allow him to steal a few strikes over the course of a game and leadership qualities that Carlson says are immeasurable. 
In other words, now he barely resembles the freshman catcher who was thrust into action in 2016 against South Carolina.
“It all goes back to confidence,” Carlson says. “When guys start truly gaining confidence in themselves they become better players — the two go hand in hand. His confidence has skyrocketed as the year has progressed and in turn he has performed better.
“We laugh about it looking back at a guy who was so sped up and wasn’t able to handle himself on the baseball field to watch him now and he is essentially another coach on the field.”
The Aggies will rely on Bedford to continue his offensive production and defensive prowess in this weekend’s Super Regional as Texas A&M hosts Davidson. The opener of the best-of-three series is Friday at 2 p.m. at Olsen Field.
“He’s put the time in, he’s never got caught up in himself and he was the same kid when he wasn’t playing as he is as an everyday guy. That’s so rewarding and so special, and it’s just a great story,” Carlson says. “To see him put in the time and effort and have such an incredible attitude when he wasn’t playing at all, you root for that guy and that’s why that kid will be successful in whatever he does in life.”

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  • Sophomore catcher Cole Bedford doubled and homered in the Aggies’ 8-2 win over Alabama Friday night. 

    Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
  • Bedford

    Photo by Thomas Campbell/Texas A&M Athletics
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