College Baseball Daily continues our series of interviews with coaches from across the country today with UNC-Wilmington head coach Mark Scalf who is entering his 20th season in charge of the Seahawks program. He enters the year with a career record of 620-486-1 after going 33-27 with a 13-11 mark in CAA play.
CBD: The Seahawks finished last season with a 33-27 overall record while going 13-11 in CAA play. What are your expectations for this year’s squad?
MS: We look to improve our finish in the regular season and put ourselves back into contention for regional play.
CBD: UNC-Wilmington returns only three of their top nine hitters from last year led by Hunter Ridge. Which newcomer to the starting lineup will make the biggest impact this season?
MS: Matt Campbell will be looked to fill that role. Matt was our MVP during the fall and made an immediate impact.
CBD: Cody Stanley lead the team last year behind the plate but has moved onto the minor leagues. Who do you expect to step into his leadership role in the locker room and behind the dish?
MS: David Shambley is a senior and will step into the catching position for us. He played well last year when he was healthy and we expect him to be the leader behind the plate as a senior.
CBD: The pitching staff sees three out of the top four starters from last season returning. Who do you see filling into the rotation spot left open by Cameron Roth?
MS: We have several pitchers who can step into that slot. Ryan Leach is one of those pitchers who can step in for that spot and we’ll also look to Steven Davis and Blaze Tart. We’re confident in Tyler McSwain, Daniel Cropper and Justin Bradley and what they bring to the rotation.
CBD: Stephen Harrold left the program after leading the team with six saves. Who do you expect to lead the backend of the bullpen this season?
MS: We have both options from both sides in the bullpen. The early part of the season will be an opportunity to see who will fill that role.
CBD: Have any of the incoming freshmen impressed you during Fall workouts? Do you expect any of them to break into the starting lineup/rotation this spring?
MS: Ryan LaGrange, Josh Abshire and Drew Farber should provide depth at their positions and will see time. On the mound, Christian MacDonald and Kelly Secrest have put themselves in position to see some early innings.
CBD: What team(s) is the biggest competition for UNCW for a CAA title?
MS: The CAA is one of the most competitive and deep conferences in the nation. We could easily have eight teams battling for four conference tournament spots again.
CBD: This season we will see a new bat standard go into effect. Has your squad had a chance to try out these new bats and if so, what are your thoughts on them?
MS: The bats will change the game with power numbers being reduced, therefore strike-throwers and team defense will take on a significant role. Speed will also be have to be more important on both offense and defense.
CBD: We have now been through three seasons with the Uniform Start Date being in effect. What is your opinion on the rule change? Has it been a good move?
MS: The Uniform Start Date for games is fine. I would like to see an expansion of the number of days for team practice though. It would help the quality ball being played. The limited time reduces a program’s ability to develop players.
College Baseball Daily would like to thank Coach Scalf for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Special thanks to UNC-Wilmington Assistant SID Thomas Riordan for setting up the interview and sending us the photos. If any other SID’s or coaches would like to be featured in a future interview feel free to send me an email.