Cumpton and Nichols Continue Their Success

Thomas Nichols and Brandon Cumpton were teammates on the successful Savannah Chain team before they arrived at Georgia Tech. Both have continued that success at Tech and are two of the reasons for Tech's successful 2010 season.

Nichols started out his career at Tech as a second baseman but has since been a jack of all trades for the Jackets. Thomas has played third, the outfield, pitched in relief and this season he has been on a tear as the team's DH while occasionally filling in behind home plate.

Nichols entered the Clemson series with an OB% of over .500 and proceeded to get on four times. He hasn't let up since. "Me and Coach (Matt) White have really grown our relationship this year," said Nichols. "All three years he and Coach (Bryan) Prince have told me to be patient, see the ball deep, and don't be so aggressive." Nichols has cut down on the hacks and is now going to the plate with a plan which makes it easier on him. "He does a great job of getting on," said Coach Danny Hall. "It doesn't always have to be with a hit and he's getting on and having good at-bats."

The move of Nichols to the every day DH has also made it easier on Thomas. "It makes me relax more and I don't have to worry about going 0 for a game," said Nichols. "It gives me a chance to calm down and let my hands do some talking."

The role of being a DH is not always an easy one. Nichols got some help from a former teammate in adapting to that role. "In the past I've talked to Luke Murton," said Nichols. "He was a DH here and he told me you can't let your first at bat get to you if you get out." Thomas now knows that he'll have more than that first hack at the plate to make an impact.

Nichols followed his hot series against Clemson with a five for five game against Georgia Southern. "I've never had a five for five and I was telling some guys in the dugout that I've never had a four for four in my career here at Tech." Nichols got that fourth hit and then proceeded with the same approach in the next at-bat leading to his second home run of the game.

The ball is flying off the bat of Nichols in his recent hot streak. "The main thing I'm worrying about is rhythm and getting my foot down early and everything else works from there." Nichols gives praise to strength coach Steve Tamborra for making it so he doesn't have to try to muscle everything when he's at the plate.

Thomas also got a chance to get a few innings in behind the plate. "I was rusty," said Nichols. "I haven't been back there in a while." Nichols goal was to help the pitchers and get them to throw strikes.

One of the pitchers that threw strikes in his last game was Nichols teammate Brandon Cumpton. Cumpton gave the Jackets a big lift with a series clinching win against Clemson. "I was pounding the strike zone and my change-up was really good." Cumpton had some problems with the breaking ball in the beginning of the game but it too came around as he got deeper into the game.

Cumpton goes out to the mound each game knowing that they're never out of the game. The great hitting in the lineup brings about that attitude. "I don't think we're ever out of it even if we only have one out left in the ninth."

One of the keys to Cumpton's strong performance against Clemson was controlling the bottom half of their lineup. The previous night they were on base six times. "I tried to be aggressive, throw in the strike zone, and make them hit my pitch."

Brandon knew it was a big game and felt it was important to compete well. "I tried to treat it like any other game but I know it's a big rivalry and a big atmosphere and I was trying to be a competitor and stick with it."

Playing together on the Savannah Chain, Cumpton and Nichols had a lot of success together. Both elected to attend Georgia Tech and they've brought that same success to the Jackets as they continue down the road towards their goal of making the college world series.


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