The Midwest Baseball Magazine recently sat down and talked with Ben Klafcynski who is a current Freshmen on Kent State. He had a tremendous senior year where he hit .613 with 12 homers as he led Highland High School to their first regional final in the program’s history. The full article from Midwest Baseball Magazine is available here. The CBB included Ben as one of the top freshmen to watch in the 2008 season. Our article is available here.
Kent State Athletic benefactor Hal Schoonover passed away this Saturday after a yearlong battle recovering from a fall. He attended Kent State where he played baseball from 1947-1949 while serving as the captain of the squad during his senior season. He was a fixture at all Golden Flashes sporting events according to Athletic Director Laing Kennedy. If he was not attending a game he would be ringing up the AD’s cell phone to get an update from the field. In 2003, Hal and his family made a substantial donation for the renovation of the Kent State baseball field. It was renamed for Hal and his wife Julie in 2005 honoring the commitment to the program. The full article from Akron Beacon Journal is available here. The CBB would like to send their condolences to the Schoonover family.
Photo is the courtesy of Kent State
University of Ohio baseball player Andrew Shisila has been charged with a first degree misdemeanor count of gambling. He was charged with former Ohio player Brent DeCoster who played with the Bobcats during his freshman season. Both of them are accused of running a gambling ring out of their residence. The investigation started in November when head coach Joe Carbone and Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt received an anonymous tip. They immediately contacted Ohio University police who started investigating the charges. They found three additional Ohio baseball players were involved in placing bets with the duo and they have been suspended from the team indefinitely with Shisila. The full release from Ohio Media Relations is available here.
Our good friend Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com has started doing previews of conferences for the 2008 season.He is one of the top college baseball writers in the country with the depth of his knowledge about the players and coaches across the country. The previews are brief but informative especially the lower level conferences. Continue reading
The CBB has been previewing some of the top players in the country for the 2008 season throughout this off-season. This week we check in on the top freshmen in the country.
Derek Dietrich SS/P (Georgia Tech)
Derek Dietrich is a 6’1 199 pound shortstop/pitcher out of Parma OH. He was a third round pick by the Houston Astros in 2007 but elected to enroll at Georgia Tech after failing to come to terms on a contract. Continue reading
FROM PRESS RELEASE
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Twenty-one home games at Warren E. Steller Field, including three against four-time defending Mid-American Conference champion and NCAA participant Kent State, highlight the 2008 Bowling Green State University baseball schedule announced Thursday by head coach Danny Schmitz. The BG schedule, which will begin on Feb. 22 and run through the 17th of May, will include 58 total regular season games with 23 of those contests coming against teams that sported winning records in 2007, including four tilts with NCAA qualifiers. Continue reading
The College Baseball Blog recently had a chance to speak with Scott Stricklin. He is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Golden Flashes program. He led the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and a conference championship game appearance in 2006.
1. In 2007, Kent State had a solid record of 33-26 with an outstanding record of 19-8 in the MAC. This season you return seven out of your nine starters from your MAC championship and NCAA participant squad. Who do you think has improved the most during fall practice from 2007?
We had several guys make jumps this fall for us. Doug Sanders, our second baseman, came back in great shape and worked very hard to become more athletic. Conor Egan saw limited time in the outfield last season but has really improved and will be pushing guys for more at bats. Jason Patton was the MVP of the MAC tournament last spring and he has added some strength and is ready to have a great junior year. On the mound, Kyle Smith and Jon Pokorny really impressed us this fall. Both guys gained strength over the summer and they now have one college season under their belt. Steven Ross has come back from injury and looks like he is going to be ready to make a push for a lot of innings.
2. Chris Carpenter entered the 2007 season as your top starter in terms of talent. He had an up and down season where he went 4-1 with a 4.50 ERA. I heard that he had some issues in the Cape Cod League on his surgically repaired right arm. Is he going to be ready to hold down your Number 1 starter role when play kicks off on February 22nd against UNC-Greensboro?
When you look only at Chris’ numbers from last year, they do appear average. However, when he pitched his way back into our rotation, we started winning. We won 16 of our last 17 games going into the regionals and Chris was a big reason why. He is our best prospect in terms of a professional player but he is also our hardest worker. Our kids really look up to him and he makes everyone around him better. He established himself as our number one starter this fall and is much more comfortable on the mound. When he was pitching last season, he was coming off almost a two year break due to Tommy John surgery. He has found the command for his fastball and his breaking ball has really sharpened up. We are all looking forward to watching him finally be able to pitch at 100% every Friday this spring.
3. You lost your top catcher in Will Vazquez who started 56 games last season. You have four catchers on your roster including Cory Hindel who is transferring from Wake Forest. Has any of the four put a hold onto the position heading into Spring practice?
Losing a leader like Will Vazquez is always difficult but I’m very optimistic about our catching situation. Cory Hindel came in and had a great fall for us and established himself as our starting catcher. However, Tyler Martin also had a good fall and has worked extremely hard. Those two will be pushing each other for the majority of innings behind the plate.
4. 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?
I don’t think too many coaches are excited about having a minimum scholarship put into effect. We are already short-handed with 11.7 scholarships and now we are being told how to spend that money. The roster limit of 35 will not affect us because we are operating with a 32 man roster right now but I know that it will impact a lot of other schools and players on those rosters. The other dynamic that will be difficult to handle on a yearly basis is the rule that stipulates that only 27 players on the roster can receive athletic scholarships. The uncertainty of the pro draft will make this a tough issue for sure.
5. Has any of your incoming freshman impressed you during Fall Workouts? Do you see any of them breaking into the starting lineup this season?
We were very happy with our freshman this fall and feel like several of them will make an impact for us. Ben Klafczynski had a very solid fall with the bat and made some strides defensively in the outfield. Brett Weibley came into the fall injured but was able to practice at the end of the fall. He showed a lot of athletic ability at 3rd base and is going to hit for a lot of power. We feel that both Ben and Brett have a chance to be a great players here. The two freshman pitchers that performed well were Justin Gill and Kyle Hallock. Both showed that they can locate their fastballs and have command of their secondary stuff. Cory Martin, another one of our left handed freshman, has really made some improvements this off season and we feel that he is going to get some quality innings.
6. What is your biggest challenge on and off the field in dealing with young men from 18-23?
There are always challenges when you are dealing with 32 different individuals on a daily basis. It’s certainly never boring around here! I think as a coach you can limit those challenges if you recruit the right type of kids. Talented players are great, but if they are going to give you constant headaches off the field, it’s just not worth it. Our kids are required to go to class and we check to make sure they do. They are all required to do at least five hours of community service to make sure they are giving something back. If my kids are busy doing the right things, they don’t have much time to do the wrong things.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Scott for checking in with us for the second straight year. If any more coaches are interested in doing a similar interview feel free to email us by clicking here.