Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Buckeyes in Full Swing in Beals First Fall Ball

Beals Era Begins for Buckeye Baseball

For the first time in 23 years Ohio State has a new coach, in Greg Beals, in charge of its baseball program as fall practices for the Buckeyes are now underway.

On June 17th, Beals was named the 12th head coach in the history of Ohio State’s oldest varsity sport, after Bob Todd announced his retirement last season. Though Beals will be following Ohio State’s all-time leader in victories coach, there is room for improvement. Ohio State has just once finished higher than 5th in the Big Ten in the last four seasons, capped by a 7th-place finish as Ohio State stumbled to a 28-23 record after opening the 2010 ranked as high as 14th in the nation.

Coming from Ohio State by way of Ball State where he spent eight seasons turning a dormant program into a yearly conference contender, Beals is well aware of the commitment of excellence at Ohio State and the expectations to field a winner.

“We very aware of the expectations of Buckeye Nation,” the Springfield, Ohio native said. “We’re going to work towards the (Big Ten) championship as we develop our goals for the team after our fall season concludes.”

In focusing on the fall season which gives Beals his first opportunity to interact with the players and being to tailor the program to his liking, Beals is pleased what he is seeing on the diamond in these early weeks.

“What I knew of Ohio State was just the wins and losses,” replied Beals when asked of previous opinions of the program he may have had prior to the season. “I didn’t know much about the internal work of how things go day in and day out,” explained the coach. “I’ve been really pleased with how the team has responded to the new coaching style, the new coaching staff, the things we’re bringing to the program.”

When pressed on what Beals would like to establish for his team no qualms were made. “What we’re trying to do is bring a blue-collar work effort to practice every day. To help our guys become a bit better every day.”

The fact that Ohio State has a new coach for the first time since 1987 is reason alone to expect a change in product on the field. When looking at the roster even more change is on the horizon for the Scarlet & Gray as nearly half the roster of the previous season has turned over.

For the 2011 season Ohio State welcomes 16 newcomers to the program which includes 10 true-freshman and six transfers, a number that nearly matches the 20 members returning from the 2010 team. By contrast, the 2010 starting infield was manned by veterans of three or four year, with the entire outfield composed of two seniors and a junior, with all three weekend pitching starters being juniors.

On whether it is easier to step into a program where such a prevalence of new faces is abound Beals saw both sides of the situation.

“It’s a catch-22. You would like to have some more experience back, that is going to help you on the field maybe in the wins and losses at the end of the day,” said Beals as Ohio State returns just two everyday-starters in the field. “But having a bunch of new guys is going to help the transition, help instill the new style a little faster.”

As Ohio State enters the second half of the fall season Beals has one sticking point on what exactly he wants to install into his players within the blue-collar work ethic these last few weeks.

“We really trying to teach our guys to compete,” proclaimed Beals. “We want them to compete in every situation that the game brings, whether there are no outs, two outs; whether you have two strikes or none, each situation of the game presents a different competitive situation, and our guys are learning to play with a different purpose.”

Fans of the program have their opportunity to see the change that is Buckeye baseball and the different approach Beals and his staff are bringing. Concluding the fall season is the annual intra-squad Scarlet and Gray World Series. The five-game event where the team is split into two kicks of October 13th, with games being the 15th, 16th, 20th, and 21st in the best-of-three format, that is free to the public.

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