It's a new era for Georgia baseball.
On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Georgia introduced new head baseball coach Scott Stricklin.
“Coming to the University of Georgia is a dream come true and to get to coach in the (Southeastern Conference), which is the best baseball conference in the country,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin noted how difficult it was to leave his alma mater of Kent State, where he had led the Golden Flashes baseball squad to five NCAA tournament appearances plus a College World Series berth in 2012
“I spent the last nine years of my life raising my family in the Kent, Ohio community and I can’t tell you how difficult it was to leave,” Stricklin said.
In the hiring process, McGarity said Stricklin’s name was one that kept coming up as they narrowed down their choices.
“The Georgia job was an extremely popular position in college baseball and the potential was limitless,” McGarity said. “As we navigated through potential candidates for this position, Scott’s name was consistently referred to as ‘someone that must be on your list.’”
After his hiring was finalized, Stricklin said an unlikely source reached out to him. It was the man he will be replacing, former head coach David Perno.
“It was a very difficult situation that [Perno] has gone through and I understand that,” Stricklin said. “He called me, he reached out to me and wanted to let me know that he is a Georgia Bulldog for life and that he supports this program and that he supports us. That meant a lot to me personally.”
Stricklin also outlined his multifaceted plan as Georgia baseball's new head man.
He vowed to recruit the state of Georgia "as hard as you can recruit it," and said he already started off on that plan following his arrival to campus on Monday.
“I had one of the most productive days we’ve ever had yesterday going around the state of Georgia,” Stricklin said. “We also had a very unexpected thing with two very good players here. We’re very excited to be here. We’re going to work very hard, we’re going to make Georgia Nation proud.”
Stricklin added he spoke to the entire 2013 recruiting class either in person or over the phone.
“I know that they’re excited to be here, but the one thing that we’ve stressed to them is that we’re going to play very hard. Our effort level is going to be off the charts. When you combine that with some talent, and we have some talent here, I think great things can happen.”
Stricklin said expectations will always be high while he’s at the helm and that the goal is simple – get to the College World Series.
“The message to our players is going to be very simple: get to Omaha,” Stricklin said. “We have tremendous talent in this state and we’re going to do everything we can to develop that talent to make our players into the best possible players, but also the best possible people that they can be.”
Competing for an SEC Championship each and every year is pivotal to achieve this goal, according to Stricklin.
“The reason I say that is if you’re competing for an SEC Championship then that means you’re going to be in line to host a regional and if you’re hosting a regional than you’ve got a great chance to move on to a Super Regional,” Stricklin said. “If you get to the point where you’re hosting Super Regionals, the odds are in your favor that you’re going to advance to Omaha.”
To achieve the aforementioned goals, Stricklin believes there are two most important aspects to be successful in baseball–pitching and defense.
“That’s how you win championships,” he said. “You have to throw strikes. You have to catch ground balls, you have to make play. That’s what our 2012 at Kent State did. We pitched and played defense. We found ways to win to games.”
As far as experience in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference is concerned, Stricklin has that too.
He was the assistant and pitching coach at Vanderbilt from 2000-01, a conference power competing in the NCAA Super Regional next week. Stricklin said that two-years of experience he gained helped his overall coaching style.
“I can’t tell you how challenging those two years were for me, learning in the SEC, on the run, to be a pitching coach,” Stricklin said. “For me, personally, that helped me grow as a coach to learn on the job, to see how it’s done in the best baseball conference in the country and see all of these coaches and the way that they do they things.”
Stricklin’s other previous coaching stints in the south came on opposite sides of his two years at Vanderbilt, at Georgia’s instate rival, Georgia Tech. He was volunteer coach from 1998-1999, and then assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from 2002-2004.
Despite previously coaching for one of Georgia's biggest baseball rivals, Stricklin said it felt great to be donning the red and black in 2013.
“I’m very proud to be here,” Stricklin said. “I’m very proud to be a Georgia Bulldog and I know my family is very proud to be Georgia Bulldogs as well. We will represent this University well. We will represent this community well and I can’t tell you how happy we are to be here today.”