JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (June 7, 2011) - After one of the most successful seasons in 30 years, ETSU baseball head coach Tony Skole sat down to answer a few questions for Buccaneer baseball fans on Tuesday.
What are some of the highlights that stick in your mind the most from a season full of achievements and records?
I thought we had a very good year. We didn't accomplish all of our goals, but when I look back on the season, we sure did a lot of good things. Obviously the 36 wins stand out. This was the most Division I wins in a season in school history. Obviously we felt like we let a few games get away that we should have won, but every team in the country feels that way as well. Due to our success, our ball club was in the national spotlight for most of the season. From a growth standpoint for our program, our administration, and our community I feel like we are finally on the map and ready to make the next step.
When you have successful seasons, it is because you have players who have successful seasons. We had a lot of players make significant contributions. From an individual standpoint, the accomplishments that Paul Hoilman was able to achieve this year were simply amazing. It seemed like he was breaking a record every week. Bo Reeder was phenomenal as well earning first team All American honors as a two way player. Hitting 15 homeruns while recording 18 saves is very impressive.
Do you feel like the NCAA Selection committee made a mistake in not putting the Bucs in the field of 64?
I don't blame the NCAA Selection committee for us not being in the NCAA tournament. We controlled our own destiny and made our own bed. Throughout the entire season we should have and could have done a little more to insure our spot. Not being in the field was a huge disappointment for players, our coaching staff and everyone close to our program. When our name did not get called it really hurt and I still don't know if I'm over it yet. The selection committee has a very difficult job to do, especially with those teams that are on the bubble. With our RPI and Strength of Schedule so high, I thought we had a decent chance of getting included. Those two criteria over the last several years have been the most important items on your resume and we were very solid there. It just happens that this season those two criteria were not considered as important as in the past. There is no doubt that not hearing our name called will definitely fuel the fire for our program's motivation for next season.
The team had its best season since 1981 when the program was one win away from going to the College World Series in Omaha. What can people expect from the Buccaneer baseball team in 2012?
I wish we could start practice tomorrow. I am very excited about our returning players and the recruiting class we have coming in. We will be a veteran ball club, with a lot of experience returning. We are losing some great players, but we feel like we have been able to address those departures. Our makeup will be different as we will have to be more dynamic on the offensive side. We lived and died by the homerun this year and as exciting as it was, the strikeouts that came with it, really limited us from being consistent. Assistant Coach C lay Greene and I looking forward to coaching this new group of hitters. We also anticipate being better than ever on the pitching and defensive side. This is what will ultimately be the deciding factor whether or not we accomplish our goals, so it is encouraging to have these pieces of the puzzle.
Also we will be opening our new stadium next season. I can't begin to put in words what this will do for our program and our community. It will be a beautiful place and I am excited to watch it all come together.
With the starting rotation pretty much remaining intact for next year how much will they be counted on to carry the squad?
Every college baseball program in the country that plays into June relies on their pitching and defense. That is just the nature of successful baseball. It has always been that way and will always be that way. You just can't be successful if you can't pitch and defend. Our pitching staff will be very deep and we should have some very good matchup options out of our bullpen. Assistant Coach Reid Casey has done a great job of developing those guys. We have some talented arms coming in as well, so that is also exciting, but overall the best thing our pitching staff brings to the park is that they compete their tails off every day. This alone gives us the chance to win every day.
How much have local players like Paul Hoilman, Derek Trent and Bo Burton meant to this program?
Those guys have meant so much to our program and university. I feel very fortunate to have been able to coach them. All of them have done so many spectacular things for us between the lines, but I think where we will really miss them is simply how they went about their business every day. All three of them have been great students and leaders on our campus, but as a coach I will always remember how they always showed up to get after it every single day. From a personal standpoint, the relationships I develop with my players are the most important aspects of my job. I am excited to see what the future holds for these guys and excited to see our relationships continue.
What was it like to coach a team that not only led the country in home runs as a team, but also had the national saves leader as well?
It was exciting to say the least. The homerun is the most exciting play in baseball and of course when you are in a lot of save situations, this means the games are close and on the line in the 9th inning. It is crazy to say, but we almost had too much power in our lineup this year. We really had some guys who could hit the ball a real long way, but usually with homeruns and big swings come strikeouts and we just didn't put the ball in play often enough to be a complete offensive team. When you strikeout you just don't put any pressure on your opponents. Instead of leading the country in homeruns again next year, our goal will be to lead the country in doubles. And of course we would like to lead the country in saves as well.