The anatomy of a mission trip

Dominican Youth ClinicSCORE International was thrilled to host the University of Louisville Baseball team on a recent short-term mission/baseball experience in the Dominican Republic. Dan McDonnell, his staff, players and several parents provided food to sugar cane villages, supported and befriended over 50 girls at Pasitos de Jesus (our girls orphanage) and played some very competitive baseball. Congrats to Dan and his team for getting out of their comfort zone for a few days to give back. For coaches or players interested in a once-in-a-lifetime baseball experience similar to this, please check out our website, CoachKeithMadison.com, or contact me directly at keith@scorebaseball.com.

-Coach

Inside Pitch: First things first- what are some of the logistics involved with organizing a mission trip for your entire program?

Dan McDonnell: “The first step is raising the money. As coaches at the end of last season, it was ‘make or break’ whether we were ready to take this thing on. The more we got into it, the more comfortable we felt, and I actually started to enjoy the process of raising the money for something you know will be life-changing for these kids.” Continue reading

Let’s play ball!

A “tip of the hat” to Craig Keilitz and his staff for once again organizing the largest and finest baseball clinic in the world. The 2016 version of the American Baseball Coaches Association Convention will not only have an incredible lineup of speakers with well over 4,000 coaches in attendance, but there will also be dozens of committee meetings, board meetings, a phenomenal group of sporting goods exhibits and some first class social events. Behind the scenes, coaches will be sharing ideas, debating philosophies and talking baseball “until the cows come home!” Continue reading

The bats have changed… is the baseball next?

Taking a round bat and hitting a round ball squarely is arguably the hardest thing to do in all of sports.

It got even harder in college baseball recently when BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) bats were implemented to lessen the trampoline effect the barrel has on the ball. The immediate effect of the bat regulations has resulted in a considerable transition process in the college game, as teams have gone from “Gorilla Ball” to more of a small ball approach. Sitting back and waiting for the long ball has taken a backseat to pitching, defense, and situational play.

In our Winter issue last year, Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell admitted the challenge the new bats posed; “With the change in the bats, we saw the game change right before our eyes and I’ll be the first to say we weren’t prepared for it. We weren’t prepared to defend the bunt, and on offense we didn’t incorporate it enough.”

After finishing 32-29 in 2011, the 2012 Cardinals won the Big East and finished the season in the top 25, bowing out to eventual national champ Arizona in the Tucson Regional.

While generally supported throughout college baseball, the new bats certainly have their detractors. In Small ball returns to the college game, a 2011 piece by the L.A. Times, Oregon head coach George Horton claimed that the bats had “changed our game for the worse,” and UC Irvine head man Mike Gillespie agreed, noting that “balls that might have gone 10 feet over the fence are landing 10 feet in front. It just dies and comes down like one of those parachute toys.” Continue reading

Man on a mission

Courier-Journal photo

Courier-Journal photo

Dan McDonnell is currently in his fifth season as the head coach for the University of Louisville, where they have hosted NCAA post-season baseball in three of the last four years. In 2007, McDonnell became the first rookie coach in 27 years to lead his team to Omaha and was named National Coach of the Year by Rivals.com. 24 Louisville players have been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft during his tenure. Inside Pitch talked with McDonnell during a SCORE mission trip in the Dominican Republic about his rapid journey to the top of college baseball.

Inside Pitch: What was so special about the 2007 team that you led to the College World Series in your first year as head coach? Were the current players concerned about your commitment to them versus the recruits you were bringing in?

Dan McDonnell: Well, when you’re known for being a recruiter, I think the current players wonder, ‘is this guy going to be in it for me or is he going to be in it for his recruits?’ Knowing that, I made it clear to our team (that included nine seniors) that I was committed to them 100 percent. They believed in me and I obviously believed in them. It was so much fun to watch a group of guys play for a team, for a program, for a university. Because of that, great things happened. We went all the way to Omaha and it wasn’t about the individual players or the draft, it was ‘what can we do as a team to experience something we’ve never done before?’

Continue reading