Archive for February 13th, 2009

Northern Sun Coach Survey – Chris Vito

Golden Eagles

This is my 2nd entry in my series of questionnaire responses I received from coaches in the Northern Sun Conference. 

Entering his first year as head coach of the University of Minnesota – Crookston Golden Eagles is Chris Vito.  Coach Vito previously served as an assistant coach at Mesabi Range Community & Technical school – Chris Vito Bio

Coaching at Crookston is certainly a challenging endeavor.  In 2006 the team finished 0-29.  In 2007 they finished 0-39 with a team ERA over 17 and a team batting average of .161.  In 2008 there was some signs of improvement as they were 3-36 with a team ERA at 11 and batting average of .245.  One of Vito’s biggest challenges is going to be getting enough quality players to compete with the larger, better established, better funded programs.  His 2009 squad is made up of almost 50% new players to the program and is off to a 0-4 start to the season.

1. In what area(s) are you looking for your team to make the biggest improvement over 2008?

I look for us to make our biggest improvement in the area of being competitive…I think that we are more talented and athletic than we were a year ago…hopefully, this will result in us being in every game…in our first four games, I have already seen improvements in the areas of pitching and defense.

2. What newcomers to your team look like they will make the biggest impact?

Newcomers that will make an impact include Teddy Gutman (Jr, IF, Burlington, Iowa – Transfer from Southwestern Community College), Devin Croal (Fr, IF, Coon Rapids, Minn.), Casey Woodside (Fr, C, Albert Lea, Minn.), Steve Schroer (Fr, RHP, Coon Rapids, Minn.), P.J. Zwach (Fr, 3B/C, St. Paul, Minn.), Andrew Gunderson (Fr, RHP, Oakdale, Minn.), Kyle Kovnesky (Fr, LHP, Coleman, Wis.) and Paul Myers (Fr, RHP, Arden Hills, Minn.). We have five other freshmen that I feel will be solid contributors in the future. They are Mitch Daly (Fr, 1B, Donnelly, Minn.), Erik Nockleby (Fr, IF/OF, Roseville, Minn.), Mitch Thompson (Fr, IF/OF, Amery, Wis.), Chase Boen (Fr, OF, Karlstad, Minn.) and Ben Lazzari (Fr, RHP, Shakopee, Minn.).

3. What’s your philosophy regarding recruiting out of high school vs. college transfers?

My philosophy with recruiting is that I like to bring in mainly freshman as opposed to junior college transfers. That said though, I still look at junior college transfers to fill an immediate need as well as to provide leadership to a young team.

4. What Northern Sun team do you consider to be your schools biggest rival?

I do not know if we have developed a strong rivalry with anyone as of yet…if I had to say anyone, it would probably be Bemidji State…they are right down the road from us…they are a very solid and well coached program that we enjoy playing.

5. Who has been the biggest influence on your coaching philosophy and/or career?

I have taken my philosophy from many different coaches…whether it was high school or college coaches, I learn from everyone I come in contact with…Bob Kochevar, the long time head coach at Eveleth-Gilbert High School (MN) was and still is a major guiding influence for me…he not only taught me the ins and outs of the game…but more importantly how to treat the kids and how to run a program with class and integrity.

The Northern Sun Baseball Blog would like to thank Chris Vito for taking time out of his schedule to answer these questions.

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St. Cloud State Travels to Missouri

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St. Cloud State boarded buses last night for a 10 hour ride to Joplin, Missouri where they will play a 4 game series against Missouri Southern State this weekend.  Originally scheduled as double headers on Saturday and Sunday, the schools agreed to move one of the Sunday games to Friday in order to avoid some inclement weather expected in Missouri by Sunday.  Coach Pat Dolan’s Huskies are 5-1 and off to their best start since 1987.

Missouri Southern is currently 1-1 and coming off of a 2008 season where they finished 19-33.  They were picked to finish in 7th place in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association preseason poll – MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.  In looking at their statistics and roster from 2008 one glaring issue stands out.  In 2008 the Lions had a team ERA of 8.13 (compared to the opponent’s ERA of 4.96).  To compound matters, Missouri Southern lost their top 3 pitchers from last year.  In their season opening split against Northeastern State they gave up 8 & 7 runs so this looks like something the Huskies can exploit.  I would expect St. Cloud State to win 3 of 4.


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