Longtime JUCO Head Coach Roger Bidwell Earns 1,000th Win

Roger Bidwell

Roger Bidwell

By Douglas S. Malan

University of Connecticut at Avery Point head coach Roger Bidwell offers no scholarships. His school has no on-campus housing and his team plays in typically harsh New England conditions every spring. Such is life for this Division II junior college program located on the banks of the Thames River near the Long Island Sound in southeastern Connecticut.

Despite the adversity UConn-Avery Point faces, Bidwell has built a regional powerhouse program at his alma mater since he began coaching there in 1982 – all with Connecticut players. After the Pointers surged to a 29-10 regular-season mark, the postseason started in late May with Bidwell earning his milestone 1,000th win at the school behind a no-hitter from ace Doug Domnarsky in the first game of the region tournament.

“That certainly made the game easier to manage,” Bidwell noted wryly a week later.

That win launched another impressive playoff run as the unranked Pointers won the region before knocking off two Top 20 teams in the district tournament to qualify for the Division II JUCO World Series in Ada, Okla., where they finished fourth in the 10-team tournament with several trademark gritty performances. Bidwell’s overall record now stands at 1,007-388-7, with six trips to the College World Series all coming since 1999 and four in the past six years. Continue reading

“Change up” the Season

FODspring15Instead of warmer temperatures and sunshine earlier this spring, Mother Nature taught the majority of the country a new vocabulary word- polar vortex.

Waves of arctic air dropped high temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below average across the United States, and subzero temperatures were recorded in parts of 26 states in March. Record lows were also set in several southeastern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Also known as the Siberian Express (the suspected origin of the air mass), the polar vortex shattered 647 record lows across the U.S.

For years, there have been a few voices calling for a change to the season to late spring/early summer. After the coldest early spring (by far) since college baseball’s common start date in 2007, those voices are getting a little louder.

Minnesota head coach John Anderson proposed the idea a few years ago for the Big Ten alone, believing that it would be the best move for the conference even if its schools would’ve essentially been eliminated from consideration for NCAA Regionals and ultimately the College World Series.

Recently, West Virginia head coach Randy Mazey has come up with his own proposal for pushing back the college season.

“The fan interest is so minimal compared to Major League Baseball,” Mazey said of the college game in a recent D1baseball.com podcast. “[We’re] not even on the radar; the interest in lower levels of minor league baseball is better than the highest levels of college baseball.”

Mazey’s proposal would make the college season look much more like a professional one- with pitchers and catchers beginning training in mid-February, hitters starting around the second week of March, and opening day penciled in for the first week of April. The proposal is even complete with a “rivalry week” during July 4th weekend to finish the regular season. Continue reading

The new ball

new ballIn response to the BBCOR bat, TD Ameritrade Park and lower offensive outputs across the country, the DI baseball committee’s unanimous 2013 vote to change the ball to a flatter-seam version was put in play. Beginning this past fall, college baseball implemented the new ball and Inside Pitch asked coaches to chime in on their overall observations, any changes that they intend to make with coaching philosophies for their hitters or pitchers, and whether the new ball will change their recruiting mindset:

HITTING

“We are a team that likes to lengthen and shorten the field- we like to make the field real big, and we like to make the field real small- and these balls play into that. They’re going to level off the playing field, and a five-run deficit is not insurmountable anymore. It won’t be as prevalent as it was 5-7 years ago, but it is going to give hitters a fighting chance when they’re dealing with adverse conditions like wind or a bigger ballpark. I really like the new baseball, I think it’s going to add some more excitement to the game, and it might put us just about where we want to be.”

Matt Deggs, head coach, Sam Houston State
Helped UL-Lafayette to a banner 2014 season where they finished the top 10 in the nation in 14 offensive categories and had an OPS of .902

“I think you’re definitely going to see more home runs, but it’s not going to go back to ‘gorilla ball’ or anything like that. As far as coaching goes, I still like power in the middle of the lineup and speed at the top and the bottom, so we aren’t going to approach it a whole lot differently.”

Cliff Godwin, head coach, East Carolina University
His hitters ranked first in the SEC in batting average and second in home runs and runs scored in 2014

“It’s a little tough for me because I’m in a new park with new hitters, too. I think the feedback from the kids was that the ball traveled farther, which is what everyone was looking for. Hopefully it’ll balance the game back out a little bit more, adding the home run as an element for most teams. Recruiting-wise, we’ve always liked to have a nice blend of power and speed, so I don’t know that it’s going to change much. Maybe the bigger corner infielder or outfielder becomes important again, which the game has kind of gotten away from the past few years.”

Chris Lemonis, head coach, Indiana University
Former hitting coach and recruiting coordinator at Louisville helped the Cardinals to three College World Series appearances and back-to-back 50-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 Continue reading

D1Baseball.com turns two

Website adds pair of industry experts

Since its inception in 2003, D1Baseball.com has been a go-to site for college baseball schedules, standings, historical data and more. Offering the sport’s only aggregated scoreboard on its home page, it has developed a rock-solid reputation for providing in-depth college baseball content on the national stage.

This past November the site announced its intentions for aggressive expansion into news coverage of the sport with the hiring of two of the most well-respected writers in the industry: Aaron Fitt, former National Writer for Baseball America, and Kendall Rogers, former Managing Editor of College Baseball at Perfect Game. Continue reading