College Baseball Daily continues our series of interviews with coaches from across the country today with Texas A&M Corpus-Christi head coach Scott Malone. He is entering his fourth season in charge of the Islanders program as they went 20-33-1 while going 10-22-1 in the Southland Conference.
CBD: Last season, we saw the Islanders have a 20-33-1 campaign while going 10-22-1 in conference play. What are your expectations for this year’s squad?
SM: Our expectations are to finish in the top half of the Southland Conference. We have rebuilt our pitching staff and have a much more balanced offensive lineup, so we feel like this is our time to make a move up into the top half of a very good baseball conference.
CBD: Texas A&M Corpus-Christi brings back nine out of their top ten hitters from last season losing only Cory Ege. Do you see any freshman or newcomers breaking into the starting lineup or rotation?
SM: Our lineup will be full of newcomers: Jumpy Garcia is set to take over the catching position. Jumpy had an outstanding sophomore year in junior college and was a late add to the Northwoods League where he was outstanding down the stretch. Shortstop is still up for grabs. Either junior college transfer Drew Vest or freshman Logan Nottebrok will be there and we will start a talented freshman in centerfield – Sean Washington.
CBD: The Islanders bring back only Roy Ferdin from last year’s starting rotation. Other than TCU transfer Sean Hoelscher, who do you expect to fill in the other spots in the rotation?
SM: Our projected starting rotation is going to be all new – you mentioned TCU transfer Sean Hoelscher. We are also excited about Northern California JC transfer Todd Simko and redshirt freshman Justin Meza.
CBD: Last season, four different players accumulated at least one save. Do you plan on continuing the “closing by committee” style or filling it in with a shutdown closer? Who is going to step into that role?
SM: We are looking for big things on the back of the pitching staff. New closer Michael Boyle has a very live low-90s fastball and we really like Roland Botello, who turned down the Washington Nationals last summer. Returnees Adam Hoelscher and Phillip Garcia will get a lot of quality innings as well.
CBD: The Kleberg Bank College Classic is back for its sixth year at Whataburger Field. Though this year’s field doesn’t have the nationally ranked teams you’ve seen in the past, it’s an intriguing mix with Oregon State, Indiana and UConn. What are you looking forward to about this year’s Classic?
SM: Oregon State carries so much name recognition. The recent success those guys have had in the last five years has not been matched by many programs. UConn and Indiana are such sleeping giants. There will be a handful of very high 1st or 2nd round draft picks gathered in Corpus Christi that weekend. I have had a few MLB scouts tell me that there may be 8 to 10 national cross checkers in town that weekend.
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?
SM: The new bats are fine. Everyone has to use them so the playing field will be even for sure. It will put more pressure on you to play and most importantly defend the small game. Teams will need to be able to slow down your running game and defend the bunt.
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?
SM: I like the idea that we all kick the season off on the same date. Even though we are way down south with year-round great weather – I still like the uniform start date. If anything, I would like to see college baseball pushed back a week or two. I have no interest in playing baseball in the cold – baseball is for the warm summer months.
CBD: Who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
SM: My father, Andy Malone, set the tone for me when it comes to coaching. He was my high school coach and we won two Texas high school state championships at the highest level. He just retired as the winningest Texas high school coach of all time. He taught to me play the game the right way, play aggressive, play to win, and that nothing is more important than your impact on kids.
College Baseball Daily would like to thank Coach Malone for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Special thanks to Texas A&M Corpus-Christi Sports Information Director Matt Brady 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.