Steve Gillespie is as meat-and-potatoes as it gets. He is all about turning programs around and winning. He makes no bones about the fact that the rest of the stuff that goes on (who gets tickets to what, how many extra people can we take, etc.) is not a high priority for him. Making sure the second baseman rotates to cover first base on a bunt seems a bigger concern.
“We will assess what we have coming back and I have seen a lot of positive things to build on from last season. There are also things that will need addressed immediately”, said Gillespie.
Gillespie had success at Jacksonville (Ala.) State and later South Carolina, where he spent his last eleven years. Call him the Bill Parcells of baseball coaches. It seemed Parcells always turned a struggling team into a contender.
Now that Gillespie is cooking the meal, like Parcells, he will surely want to buy the groceries too.
“Some of the guys had better Summers than they had Springs”, remarked Gillespie. ”We were able to sign a few guys that will be able to contribute immediately.”
The Penguins baseball program has been kind of like the redheaded stepchild of YSU sports the last few seasons. Last season, the Guins finished 11-44 and in 2011, not much better, at 14-41. In fact, YSU has not had a winning baseball season since going 29-27 in 2005. So Gillespie and his staff have their work cut out.
The staff is diverse and the only returning member from past seasons in Craig Antush. Antush will serve as the director of operations.
“Craig has more than two decades of Division I experience as a player and a coach,” Gillispie said. “His 13 years here at YSU will provide great stability for our program as we make this transition, and I know our student-athletes are happy to see him on staff.”
The Penguins have also added Jason Neal as the recruiting coordinator, Kevin Smallcomb as the associate head coach, and former Cleveland Indians pitcher Jason Stanford will serve as the pitching coach.
“My interview experience here was absolutely phenomenal”, remarked Gillespie. ”I knew how accommodating people were here at that point. It is a great family atmosphere and I couldn’t be happier to be here. The Watts is a great tool. We would have lost ground on the Southern schools without a place like that to practice in when the weather does not cooperate.”
The Penguins are currently assessing on-field personnel and have added seven players to the 2013 roster. The group of seven includes junior college transfers Mike Accardi, Devin Higgins, Kris Moules, and Josh White; freshmen from the western part of the country Jonas Wellan and Jared Wight; and Boardman High graduate Dan Popio. Accardi and Higgins are outfielders, Popio, Wellan and White are catchers, Moules is a first baseman and Wight is a left-handed pitcher. Accardi, Moules and White all played at Lackawanna College last season and helped lead the Falcons to the NJCAA Division II World Series.