The College Baseball Blog continues our series of interviews with various head coaches around the nation. We recently had a chance to talk with Mark Scalf of UNC-Wilmington. He led the Seahawks to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 making it to the Regional Final against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Coach Scalf talks about his expectations for the 2009 campaign and his opinion on some of the rule changes in College Baseball over the last few years.
1. The UNC-Wilmington Seahawks are coming off one of the best seasons in the history of the program. The team finished the season with a 44-17-1 record and advancing to the Regional final against North Carolina. What are your expectations for the 2009 squad?
We’re looking to win a conference championship and return the NCAA regionals. We will have to mature quickly and our players will have to accept and embrace their roles.
2. Brad Holt was a pleasant surprise last season as he was selected by the New York Mets with the 33rd overall pick. What made him such a special player last season?
He was able to apply what he learned over the previous summer and fall under the direction of Jason Howell. He learned more about the game and competing and repeat his delivery on a consistent basis.
3. Cameron Roth is receiving some preseason recognition by being named to the Brooks Wallace Watch List. He picked up the CAA Rookie of the Year honors and was named to several All-American teams. Who on your squad could garner conference and national recognition?
Cam along with Cody Stanley, Stephen Harrold and Daniel Cropper. All achieved national recognition during their career here. Cropper was a freshman All-America, but missed last season following elbow surgery. He returned to action late in the fall and performed well.
4. Catcher Mark Carver had an outstanding career with UNC-Wilmington picking up several national awards. Who do you expect to step into his shoes behind the plate?
Cody Stanley will step into that role for us this season. Cody had a successful rookie season and performed well during the summer in the NECBL.
5. The Seahawks have 14 incoming freshmen in 2009. Do you expect any of them to break into the starting lineup or contribute to the pitching staff?
We’ll have newcomers contribute as they get comfortable with their roles on the club. Hopefully we’ll be able to pick our spots so they have an opportunity to be successful. This is a talented class of freshmen.
6. Who do you expect to be your biggest challenge in the CAA for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament?
James Madison and George Mason will be tough with experienced rosters returning. The conference has taken a step forward over the last two seasons and has gotten deeper. We have some very good coaches in the conference.
7. Last season we saw the implementation of the Uniform Start Date. What are your early impressions on it? Did you think it has leveled the playing field?
It still remains to be seen. Early impression is that I think we need to start sooner.
8. How will the new rules with the way the scholarships can be split on the team affect your program? Do you think it is a good change for college baseball?
You can’t reward non-scholarship players who work and improve each season. Some of our best players, some who have gone on to play professionally, were lower scholarshipped kids who worked hard and we were able to reward them for their efforts.
9. With the removal of the one-time transfer exemption that allowed student-athletes to change schools once without having to sit out a red-shirt year, do you feel that there is more pressure on a coach to recruit with responsibility or for the student-athlete to be aware of what programs are the best fit for them?
It’s a combination of both. The player needs to be aware of the situation they are walking into. But at the same time, the coaches need to be honest and forthright with who they are recruiting about the player’s chances of competing for a job.
10. Final question, who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
Our former AD and baseball coach Bill Brooks. He recruited me, taught me the game, how to work with people and gave me my opportunity to coach here at UNCW. He’s made a difference not only in my life, but all of those he’s worked with and coaches.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Mark Scalf for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions for us. Special thanks to Thomas Riordan of UNCW Media Relations for setting up the interview. You can check out our previous interviews by clicking here and if you are an SID or Head Coach that would like to be featured on the site please email us by clicking here.