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Big league names speak to 49ers baseball program

Mike Shildt and Daniel Bard spoke to the team before season practices began

The Charlotte 49ers back on the field at Hayes Stadium in their new gray Nike uniforms ready to take on a new season -- after last year's was cut short.

The 49ers had just grabbed a huge win at ninth-ranked NC State when the remainder of their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19.

"We couldn't have drawn up the first team practice any better, with great weather and new uniforms," said coach Robert Woodard as the team began practice on Friday. "There's a ton of hope for the 2021 spring, and a lot of excitement within this program and this athletic department. We're excited to be out here today."

Woodard led the 49ers to a 9-8 record in 2020, with about one-third of the season being completed.

"It's really exciting especially getting our season cut short last year with COVID," said pitcher Bryce McGowan. "It's been a while since we've played against another team. First day of practice means we're getting closer to the start of the season so it's really exciting."

The 49ers first scheduled game is Feb. 19 at home against Morehead State.

On Thursday, the Niners had two special guests for their First Pitch event, as Mike Shildt and Daniel Bard spoke to the team virtually.

Shildt, an Olympic H.S. graduate, is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bard, a pitcher from Charlotte Christian School, was named 2020 National League Comeback Player of the year.

"I think it's great for our players to really see that there's talent from the city of Charlotte going on to do great things," Woodard said. "Our players being able to see that path could happen for them if they surround themselves with good people, make great decisions and work really hard."

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