NICEVILLE, FL (WJHG/WECP) Coaching on the collegiate level is as tricky as it has ever been these days. Certainly Northwest Florida baseball head coach Doug Martin can relate to that.
NWF head baseball coach Doug Martin
His team 18-5 overall and 1-1 in Conference play when the plug was pulled on this season. The Raiders looking to make another run at the Panhandle title and a return trip to the State Tournament. All of those hopes washed away when the NJCAA canceled the second half of all spring sports.
Weeks later coach Martin still feels the sting, and waits to be able to move ahead with his program in some semblance of a normal fashion.
"Just kind of sitting and waiting and hoping that maybe things will open up soon and we can get back into a regular work routine." Coach Martin told me via Skype. "Obviously we are disappointed that we couldn't finish our season. We felt like we had some really good players and our season to that point, was going really well. But everybody's in the same boat, we have to go with it and hopefully it will all be behind us soon."
In the meantime, the coach is working hard to recruit these days, since most of his sophomores are moving on, though a few might take advantage of the offer of an extra year of Juco ball.
"We have one or two, but I believe as of last week we have 10 sophomores that have all signed Division I scholarships. So unless something falls through with those universities that they've signed with, to go to, to where they couldn't attend, then they'll all be moving on. They will all graduate and so we're proud of that. That's kind of what Junior College is supposed to be about anyway is helping our players improve their skills both athletically and academically, so they can have the chance to go to the university level. So we're proud that those guys are moving on. We will just replace them as best we can with a new crop of players, hopefully starting in the fall."
Coach Martin says he adapted to how he had to recruit once the lockdown occurred and in-person contact with recruits was banned. That ban will be lifted midnight Friday night, and coach is no doubt anxious to get back out and meet up with some recruits. Though to some degree, he did have many of the 11 high school players he's already signed, already locked up before things were shut down.
"I think we got around 10 high school games in so we might have gotten to see a few of those games. But you know we like to go out to the high schools during the season and watch games and watch players, seniors that may still be unsigned. Or maybe some younger players , For us that maybe we can keep an ion for the future. But we had some commitments before all this took place, we had several but our roster is certainly not full."
Coach Martin says he still has 6 scholarships left to fill. But he's in no hurry to fill them given the MLB draft, late last week, was cut to just five rounds. And that has ramifications for all levels of baseball, certainly for Juco coaches.
“And the reason that’s important is because it all trickles down. And really those five potential rounds, 6 through 10 are where a lot of the four-year school players, juniors, seniors sometimes that’s a hot round for those players to get drafted. Well if there’s not but five rounds, a lot of those players will be coming back to the universities. So you’re going to have a real crowded situation at some of these schools. And so we really need to save some spots for on our roster, for the potential of gaining some of those players that are division one power five tape ability tape players but. May see a situation where there’s too many people there and I might need to go to a junior college.”
Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.