College Baseball Daily continues our series of interviews with coaches from across the country today with Spanky McFarland of James Madison who is entering his 14th season with the Dukes as he has a record of 403-330-2 at the school while having a career record of 579-554-3 which includes a two year stint at Kellogg (Mich.) Community College and seven seasons at Northern Illinois University.
CBD: James Madison finished last season with a 30-23 overall record, while going 18-6 which won the CAA Regular Season title. What are your expectations heading into the 2011 season?
SM: Our expectations are the same as every other year, and that is to be the best that we can be.
CBD: The Dukes bring back four out of five starting pitchers from last year. Who do you expect to step into the opening in the starting pitching staff heading into the season?
SM: We have more openings than you think. Phelps and Hoffman are no longer playing, so we have several holes to fill. Valadja, D.J. brown and Evan Scott appear to be the leaders for the weekend rotation. All have weekend experience. Scott missed most of last year due to an injury, but was a weekend starter as a freshman. The 4th starter is up in the air right now. Sean Tierney, who missed last year due to injury and Ty Mcfarland a freshman righthander are in the mix.
CBD: JMU returns two out of the top five hitters from last year’s team in Matt Tenaglia and Trevor Knight. Who do you see stepping into the spots left open by the losses of Matt Browning, Mike Fabiaschi, and Matt Townsend?
SM: Trevor Knight will move from first to second to replace Michael Fabiaschi, sophomore Bradley Shaban will take over at third to replace Matt Browning and Cole McInturff will take over for Matt Townsend. Shaban and McInturff are lefthanded hitters. We will not have the power we had last year, but should have excellent team speed.
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?
SM: Freshmen Ty Mcfarland, Trent Cundiff and Jared Tate all had good falls and will contribute on the mound. Connor Brown may play some infield and Ty Mcfarland will DH against righthanded pitching.
CBD: Kevin Munson leaves the program after recording 10 saves last season. How you going to fill this role at the backend of your bullpen during the season?
SM: Replacing Kevin will be impossible, but we will try to use several guys in this role. James Weiner being the guy with the most experience.
CBD: Who do you expect to be the biggest challenger to winning the CAA this season?
SM: Georgia State has most of their team back while UNC-Wilmington and VCU have a lot of pitching coming back.
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: The uniform start date is good for college baseball. I do wish we could find a way to play in April, May, June and have post season in August.
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: We have used the new bats and it will change the game. They play very much like wood bats and I think the game will become more of a short game/ baserunning game, instead of the power game that college baseball has become. It should shorten game times as well.
CBD: Who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
SM: I have worked for both FSU’s Mike Martin and Miami (FL)’s Jim Morris and they were big influences as well as former Mississippi State head coach Ron Polk who I have gotten to know quite well. My biggest influence though, would be Sparky Anderson.
College Baseball Daily would like to thank Coach McFarland for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us. Special thanks to Baseball SID Kevin Warner for sending us the photos for use in the article. If any other SID’s or coaches would like to be featured in a future interview feel free to send me an email.