JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 30, 2012) – With the fall season wrapping up, head coach Tony Skole was able to sit down with the ETSU athletic media relations staff for question-and-answer session to let the fans know how the team is doing.
Below is the Q&A with Coach Skole…
The fall season came to an end with the Blue/Gold World Series. Give your overall thoughts on the three-game series and what you were pleased to see in those games?
The Blue/Gold World Series is always a great event. Our coaches and players were very excited to compete and we had a great turnout as well. The Blue Team was able to win the deciding game on Sunday. The Most Valuable Player was freshman infielder Trey York and the Most Valuable Pitcher was freshman left-handed pitcher Kevin Marnon. We had some great performances on both teams throughout the series.
The team was able to hold 28 practices over a 45-day span this fall. What were you able take away from the fall season? What were you pleased with? What do you think still needs some improvement before opening day arrives?
It’s always exciting when you put together a roster and getting to see it come together on the field. I was extremely pleased with our fall practice season. It was by no doubt the most productive fall season I have ever had here at ETSU and there were two main reasons for this.
The first had to deal with the relentless work ethic of my coaching staff. Coach Bunn, Coach Barksdale and Coach Landreth have been great. This is just the second year of our staff being together, so last year we went through a learning curve together. This year things have gone so much smoother and we have been more productive. I sincerely feel like I have the best assistant coaches in the country. My players are very fortunate to be around them on a daily basis.
The second reason our fall season was so productive was the fact we were able to be on our own field in our brand new facility. For the first time in 14 years, we were able to get quality work done on an individual player development basis before we took the field as a team. In the past, because we did not have our own field, we were only able to get on the field on specific practice days. Obviously, this was very limiting. However, this year, once our fall season officially began, we were already ahead of where we had been in previous years.
This team’s work ethic, commitment to each other, and uncommon desire to succeed has been very pleasing to our coaching staff this fall. Even though we have a lot of new players and youth in our program, I like the “Baseball IQ” of this group. We have outstanding leadership from our seniors and they have done a great job at making sure our ball club is doing the right things while also paying attention to the small details.
Out of the 28 days of team practice this fall – looking back over my practice notes – I don’t think we had one unproductive day. This group really got after it, while displaying great energy and passion each day we took the field.
As a coaching staff, were you guys able to build a starting lineup leading into the spring season during fall play, or will there be some competition for spots once the guys return in January?
One of the things which made our fall season productive was the fact we have a lot of players competing for spots in our lineup and rotation. If we had to play today, I would feel very confident about the lineup we could put out there, but I also realize this lineup will probably not be the same lineup come this spring. We have some very good returning players who have proven themselves and I could pencil them in the lineup today, but we also have some positions and areas that are up for grabs. From a position-player standpoint, we have outstanding depth. We have 19 hitters and I feel confident all of those guys can help us win. On our pitching staff, all of our guys are strike throwers and you can never have enough of them, so we are anticipating our pitchers playing an important role.
With all the newcomers on this season’s squad, how important was the fall season for the entire team to come together and build team chemistry?
It has been very rewarding watching this group come together. The credit goes to our returning players, who have done an outstanding job in helping our new players make their transition a lot easier. We require our guys to make a huge commitment to our program. There is a lot required and expected from everyone once they arrive on campus. At first, this can be difficult for our new guys, but soon they begin to understand they are now a part of something bigger than themselves. From there, they begin to understand their teammates, coaches, and all those who have come before them are counting on them to do the right thing. Our guys are special and to play at the Division I level requires an extreme commitment and behavior. No one ever said it was easy, because if it was, then everybody would be doing it.
With the fall season now completed, what will the guys be doing leading up to the first day of practice in January?
This is such an important time of the year for our ball club. Over the next six weeks, our guys will be heavily involved in our strength, conditioning and speed programs. This is an area where we really have an opportunity to excel, so I am excited to see their progress. We lifted during our fall season, so our guys are comfortable with being in the weight room and we are off to a great start thus far. We are also working with our guys on an individual basis related to their skill development and improvement. And of course, most importantly, our guys are buckling down on their school work. At mid-terms, our grades were very good and I’m expecting the trend to continue to the end of the semester.
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