Joey Roach: the final catch

#8 Joey Roach batters up in a game against Western Michigan, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo Submitted | Georgia State Athletics
#8 Joey Roach batters up in a game against Western Michigan, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo Submitted | Georgia State Athletics
#8 Joey Roach batters up in a game against Western Michigan, Feb. 19, 2016.
Photo Submitted | Georgia State Athletics

After 466 at bats and 140 hits, catcher Joey Roach began his final season as a Georgia State Panther on Feb. 19.

Journey to Georgia State

Roach began his love for baseball at the age of four in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Being introduced to the sport by his parents as well as his brother-in-law, who played collegiate baseball at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, instilled a basic level of fundamentals and techniques for Roach and his twin brother, Mike.

Roach remembers the first baseball team he played on.

“The Twins,” Roach said. “Which is pretty funny because I have a twin brother too, so it’s pretty ironic.”

Roach attended Holly Springs High School where he helped lead the team to 4A NCHSAA state championships in 2010 and 2011. Always harboring a competitive and hard-working spirit, Roach currently holds the Holly Springs records for career home runs and RBIs.

Roach was also a threat in the classroom earning four-time academic all-conference honors as well as being a National Honor Society Member. Between the numbers, Roach accumulated on the field and within his academics, made him an ideal model for the term student-athlete. In high school, Roach knew he could take his skills to the next level.

“I’ve always loved the game, and it’s always been fun,” Roach said. “I had some success in high school and just knowing that I might be able to play at the next level was a great opportunity and something to put my mind to. I was blessed with the opportunity to play at a collegiate level and it was exciting.”

As graduation approached, Roach knew it was time to make a decision on where he wanted to continue his love for baseball as well as carry on his education. After receiving an offer from Georgia State, Roach visited the university located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. He remembers nothing, but positive memories and sensational personalities.  

“It was definitely different from home,” Roach said. “I thought that it would be a new, exciting place for me to go. I loved all the coaches, and I loved all the people on the team. It just felt like a good fit for me. When I came down everyone was welcoming, and everyone on campus was so nice, and it just felt like a good fit.”

Roach considered staying back home in North Carolina, but warm smiles convinced him to make Georgia State his home for the next four years.

Plays as a Panther

While the catcher may stand alone in the catcher’s box, there is a strong bond between the catcher and the pitchers. Roach describes one aspect of the job of a catcher as being able to manage the pitching staff.

“We work with a bunch of different pitchers, and each guy pitches differently,” Roach said. “Being able to communicate with them and the coaches. Also getting the right pitch to call. Just being able to motivate them, keep them focused and manage the game because it’s definitely a relationship between pitcher and catcher. The game doesn’t start until they throw it, and they’re throwing it to us.”

Whereas this relationship is seen on the defensive side of the ball, the catcher is expected to contribute offensively as well.

“Help the team out wherever you’re in [the] lineup,” Roach said. “Put the ball in play, get runs scored and score runs.”

Roach showcased his ability to get runs scored as well as score runs himself last season against in-state team Mercer. During this game Roach hit a grand slam, a two-run homer and a run-scoring single, finishing 3-for-4 with seven RBIs in a single game. This performance is one that Roach singles out as being one of his most memorable games in his college career.

Roach finished his junior season with a .302 average and seven home run hits. Along with a 39 RBIs, Roach played in all 57 games behind the plate where he saw almost every inning of each game. Similar to his high school career, Roach’s accomplishments don’t stop with the just the sport. The actuarial science major earned a 3.92 GPA while named Capital One Academic All-District.

Roach was a Johnny Bench Award Semifinalist. This award is to honor the top catcher in the NCAA division I category. Roach considers this honor to be one of his greatest achievements.

“They’re all different,” Roach said. “The student always comes first in student-athlete. Being nominated to the be a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench award was really cool for me, just because that’s in my specific position. Being able to be listed with all the different people in the country on that level really hit home with me.”

Regardless of these honors, Roach is always creating new goals for himself and his teammates. Winning conference is the first milestone Roach looks to achieve during his final go-round.

“Winning conference for sure,” Roach said. “Making regionals. If we win [the] conference, go to regionals, go to super regionals and make it to Omaha, that’s the for sure overall goal. As a team, just to go out everyday and play competitively.”

After graduating, Roach plans to pursue a career in actuarial science. He will not give up his love for baseball as he plans to pursue the sport for as long as he can. It’s always been a dream of his to play at the professional level.