FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
MOBILE, Ala. – In the three weeks since University of South Alabama head baseball coach Steve Kittrell announced his retirement at the end of the 2011 season, Director of Athletics Dr. Joel Erdmann has received interest from numerous qualified candidates to take over the reins of the program. In the end, Erdmann looked at the kings of the NCAA diamond to find Kittrell’s successor.
Mark Calvi, assistant coach for College World Series champion South Carolina, was named associate head coach/head coach in waiting at South Alabama Thursday. He is scheduled to be introduced Friday at a 1 p.m. press conference at the Mitchell Center, and will become the program’s fifth head coach at the conclusion of the 2011 campaign.
“Obviously, we’re very excited about hiring Mark. He brings not only a wealth of coaching experience to the table, but a demeanor and various intangibles that are going to make him a great member of this family,” stated Erdmann. “A facet of the game that we looked deeply at was pitching, and his background in that area — as well as in recruiting, and his familiarity with the Sun Belt Conference, the southeast region and the nation — is very impressive.
“Mark has been with two very, very good programs, and he has demonstrated loyalty and longevity to those schools. And the key is that he has had success — success that includes conference championship levels and Regionals, while rising to Super Regionals and Omaha on the way to a national championship.”
Calvi, 41, has spent the last six seasons at USC, where his Gamecock pitching staffs have frequently ranked among the NCAA and Southeastern Conference leaders. In his career, which spans 17 years at the collegiate level including an 11-season stint at fellow Sun Belt Conference member Florida International, he has worked with 35 pitchers who have either been drafted or signed with Major League Baseball teams — that includes five who have reached the majors.
In leading the Gamecocks to the national championship this season, Calvi’s staff ranked in the top 10 nationally in earned run average (seventh, 3.75), and strikeouts (sixth, 8.9) and hits allowed (third, 7.48) per nine innings after posting a 2.15 ERA in seven CWS contests (which was nearly a point lower than the next best team in Omaha). USC paced the conference in ERA and gave up the fewest hits in the SEC despite hurling the most innings as well. Individually, he helped Blake Cooper end the year second in the country with 13 wins and 10th with 126 strikeouts, while Matt Price was 28th with 10 saves and Sam Dyson finished 46th with 101 strikeouts.
USC has finished with an ERA below 4.00 in three of his six years in Columbia, and has ranked in the top five in the SEC in the category four times during that stretch.
Additionally, the Gamecocks were among the top 50 in the NCAA in earned run average on four occasions during Calvi’s tenure, also finishing at least that high in hits allowed and strikeouts per nine innings as well each of the last three years since the organization began keeping track of the latter figures.
During Calvi’s six seasons with the program, the Gamecocks reached an NCAA Regional every year, advanced to three Super Regionals and claimed the CWS title this spring — USC posted an overall record of 262-130 (66.8%) during that span. Three of his hurlers earned Freshman All-America honors, while Cooper was voted to multiple All-America squads this year.
Prior to joining the staff at South Carolina, Calvi was an assistant at FIU for 11 years. During his time with the Golden Panthers, they advanced to an NCAA Regional seven times while moving on to the 2001 Super Regional. His staff led the country in ERA in 1995 (2.40) — FIU’s 16 shutouts that spring are tied for the sixth-highest total in NCAA history — and ’99 (3.07), and in 1998 the Golden Panthers’ 675 strikeouts were tops in the nation. Calvi’s unit recorded an ERA that finished in the top 10 in the NCAA five times.
His efforts in Miami helped Joseph Burns pace the nation with a 1.20 ERA during the 1995 campaign, while a year later Evan Thomas led the country with 220 strikeouts — the latter is the fourth-highest figure ever in the NCAA. In all, Calvi produced eight All-Americans and 13 all-conference selections with the Golden Panthers.
Calvi was a three-year letterwinner as a catcher at Nova Southeastern, and after he earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education he signed a professional contract with the Seattle Mariners. Following a season in which he helped his team win the Northwest League championship, he worked for a year as a scout for the Mariners.
A native of Marco Island, Fla., Calvi and his wife Kaylie have one daughter, Taylor (15).
“I feel very confident that once people in Mobile and within Jaguar baseball get to meet and know Mark, they will be very impressed and glad that he’s wearing our uniform,” Erdmann said.
He joins a program that in 46 seasons has posted 1,593 victories, participated in NCAA postseason play on 24 occasions — including coming within one win of advancing to the CWS six times — claimed 15 Sun Belt Conference championships and won 11 league tournament titles.
“I’m very excited for Coach Calvi and his family as he embarks on his career as a head coach,” said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner. “He is deserving of this opportunity and will be a great leader for Jaguar Baseball. Coach Calvi is a tremendous pitching coach and friend. He has done a magnificent job here at Carolina and we wish him success at South Alabama.”
Kittrell announced his retirement at the end of 2011 season on June 23. Information on the entire USA baseball coaching staff for the 2011 season will be forthcoming.