On this episode of the College Baseball Central Podcast, Joe Healy talks Kent State baseball with Allen Moff of the Record-Courier.
Over the last two decades, KSU has been the model of consistency within the MAC. The program hasn’t suffered a losing season since 1998, and during that time, they’ve made nine regional appearances. That’s a pretty impressive number when you consider that the MAC is annually a one-bid league. Generally speaking, a regional appearance only comes if the Golden Flashes play their best baseball at the right time of year, and they’ve done that far more often than any other team in the league. Their crowning achievement, of course, was their trip to the College World Series in 2012.
A huge part of their success has been head coaching continuity. Each of the last three head coaches prior to current head coach Jeff Duncan have moved on to bigger jobs, but each stayed in Kent for an extended period of time, allowing these coaches a chance to really build something over time. Danny Hall coached KSU for six seasons before moving on to Georgia Tech. Rick Rembielak was in charge for 11 seasons before taking the job at Wake Forest, and most recently, Scott Stricklin was at the helm for nine years before moving on to coach Georgia. And already, current head coach Jeff Duncan is entering his fifth season.
Adding to that sense of continuity is the presence of pitching coach Mike Birkbeck, who has served in that role for more than two decades under three different head coaches. Obviously, that’s quite unique in college baseball. Heading into 2018, Duncan, Birkbeck, and the rest of the staff will be tasked with keeping the ball rolling for one of the best mid-major programs in the entire country.
Among the topics discussed on this episode are:
- The factors that have led to KSU becoming the most consistent program in the MAC
- What makes Mike Birkbeck so good at his job
- The ceiling for the Kent State program, taking into account their level of success, but also their geographical disadvantages and conference affiliation
- How the 2012 College World Series appearance changed things for the program
- Expectations for the 2018 season
- Players or position groups whose success will be particularly pivotal for team success in 2018
Thanks for listening, everyone!