Butch Thompson interview

butchthompsonCoaching journey…

I’m from Mississippi so it’s been pretty neat being here at Mississippi State. It’s kind of come full-circle, because I’m from Amory, Mississippi. I’ve just been fortunate to be around great people, I know three of the four head coaches I’ve worked for have been national coaches of the year.

The first one was Brian Shoop at Birmingham Southern, who I probably spent ten years with as a player and a coach. He’s now an assistant coach at UAB. He’s probably been the biggest influence on my life- not just with baseball, spiritually as well- he’s been kind of like a dad to me. I think he’s one of our best coaches in the country. He prepared me, and when we won the 2001 NAIA National Championship, I had the opportunity to go to Georgia with David Perno, and that was all because of Coach Shoop and Daron Schoenrock, who was my pitching coach in college.

I was at Georgia through 2005 and had a chance to go be with Tom Slater at Auburn from 2006-8 before coming to Mississippi State with John Cohen.

You can trace everything back to one degree of separation: John Cohen played at Mississippi State and Brian Shoop was an assistant at that point under Ron Polk. John and I had never worked together until I got here, and I’m just thankful he gave me the opportunity to come back home.

Every “break” that I’ve caught is from being around really good people, because of relationships and people being good to me. In business or any other profession, it’s about being around people that are better than me. Les Brown is a great motivational speaker, and he said “if I’m the smartest man in the group, I need to get a new group,” and I’ve never been the smartest in my group!

Pitching philosophy… Continue reading

The best drills in baseball

godwindrillCliff Godwin, Ole Miss

Played at East Carolina University; has prior coaching experience at UNC-Wilmington, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU and Central Florida

“Here are a few drills our guys do every single day before they ever have a live pitch thrown to them:

1. Fungo swings- toss up the ball and hit 10-15 balls with a fungo to get loose. Try to hit line drives.

2. High tee drill series- set tee up away to start with and go “no-low half” where you’re eliminating the lower half where you’ve already taken your stride and both your feet are on the ground. You can either have your hands in a normal position or put them out on their front shoulder (front shoulder load).

The whole basis of the drill is to eliminate the lower half and produce three head-high line drives over the opposite-field infielder’s head. [Our players at Ole Miss] have to do three in a row and that’s what I really take pride in, getting our guys to do that, because anybody can produce one line drive and move on to the next step, but it’s not consistent. Once they do that, they take swings regularly off the high tee away and do three in a row there. Then we move the tee to the middle and finally to the inner half, repeating the same sequence: Continue reading

Interview with Mike Martin

Mike MartinFlorida State’s Mike Martin is now in his 34th season as the Seminoles’ head coach with a career that has covered five presidents and over 1,700 wins.  Martin’s 33 consecutive regional tournament appearances and 15 trips to the College World Series appearances may never be duplicated.  “11,” as he is known by most in baseball, was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.  He will go down as one of the most successful coaches in college baseball history-but would love to leave Omaha with a National Championship, a trophy that has eluded Martin in his career.

Inside Pitch: Do you still get the same excitement today that you did when you first broke in to coaching?

Martin: I get a huge enjoyment out of watching guys have success and with this team that we have, it’s certainly a challenge because we know we have so many young guys that are experiencing something for the first time in their life; the attention and that affects players.  As a coach you have to be sure that the young men know how to handle the attention and success but more than that, the failure.  I get a charge out of watching them get better.

Inside Pitch: Many of your players have gone on to have success in the big leagues (Buster Posey, Deion Sanders, J.D. and Stephen Drew).  Do you get the same level of satisfaction watching their success as you do guys who don’t play pro ball but are successful in life?

Martin:  I can’t tell you what enjoyment that is.  You have guys you really doubt and it happened just awhile back.  You doubted whether they would amount to anything.  They got out of school and made themselves a successful businessman.  That gives you as much as enjoyment because maybe you said something that triggered him to align himself with the right people and become a great citizen and American.

When you have a guy like Buster Posey, you know that no matter what he goes into he’s going to be a success.  He’s smart, articulate and in control of his emotions-so you really feel that no matter what you say or do with a Buster Posey, he’s going to be a success in life.  So maybe you point him in the right direction which we did.  We didn’t do anything but put him in the right place.  We didn’t have anything to do with him winning the MVP or the NL batting title, we tried to make a suggestion and have him make the decision.  That’s the way we look at it.

Inside Pitch: You’ve been to Omaha 15 times but have yet to win a College World Series title.  Is that the missing piece to your career?READ THE REST

One-on-one with Scott Stricklin

Under Stricklin, Kent State has won five Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament Championships, reaching the NCAA Regionals in each of those seasons. The team also reached one Super Regional, in 2012. After defeating Oregon in that Super Regional, the team advanced to the 2012 College World Series. Individually, Stricklin has won three Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Awards and one ABCA Mideast Region Coach of the Year Award.

Q: How do you approach the new season?

A: You have to have a lot of patience. There are a lot of new players coming in, and it takes time for them to learn how to do the things that you do. There’s a lot of teaching that goes on. The upperclassmen lead the way.

Q: How do you battle inclement weather when it comes up?

A: We’re very blessed to have an unbelievable indoor facility. When the bad weather hits, it allows us to be more consistent; we won’t miss a day of practice in there. As a northern school you have to maximize your time outside, but you have to have an indoor facility too. Getting acclimated for our first game is always a challenge, you have to prepare them as much as you can. Continue reading