DESTIN, Fla. – Scott Stricklin earned a fifth season as Georgia’s baseball coach based on a strong finish to the season, judging by what athletics director Greg McGarity said Wednesday.
Georgia’s season ended last week, but Stricklin’s tenure did not, despite four straight losing seasons, and this one being the worst. McGarity, however, liked what he saw down the stretch, when the Bulldogs took the final three series of the regular season.
“Has it taken longer than we all thought? Sure,” McGarity said of Stricklin’s tenure. “But it’s promising to see the way it ended.”
Georgia finished 25-32 this season, its worst overall record under Stricklin, and 11-19 in the SEC. The Bulldogs are now 104-119-1 overall and 43-75-1 under Stricklin.
McGarity said he has a monthly meeting with every coach, including during the season. The final one came before Georgia took two out of three games each from Kentucky and Mississippi State, two ranked teams, and at South Carolina, which was fighting for an NCAA tournament berth.
The Bulldogs also played well against in non-conference mid-week games, and McGarity cited a decrease in wild pitches, errors and passed balls as the season ended.
“The things that Scott and I talked about in the month leading up to the last months of the season, things we wanted to see, things that were very important, and those things materialized,” McGarity said. “So as we walked down that path and what we expected to see and what he expected to see, it matched up, really, with our performance at the end of the year.”
So what led to the Bulldogs being in such a hole to start the season, and three losing seasons beforehand? McGarity pointed to Stricklin basically not being responsible for his first two classes: Stricklin inherited predecessor David Perno’s final signing class, which was headed to campus by the time he was hired. And McGarity said Stricklin honored the commitments that Perno had gotten for the next class.
The result, after attrition and a strong 2016 recruiting class, was a very young team this year, with as many as six position players in certain games who were freshmen.
“I knew going in, when Scott and I discussed the job at the very beginning, we talked about his plan, and his plan was to build a team that’s based around on high school freshman,” McGarity said. “Scott will be the first one to tell you, it was very important for us to finish strong. I know he was very confident in these young people being more seasoned. As he’s said before, it just took him a lot longer than he thought to get going.”
So what is expected for next year? McGarity did not specify anything, but indicated that he didn’t need to.
“Our coaches know what our goals are,” McGarity said. “You ask Mark Fox, his goal is to make the NCAA tournament. I promise you Scott Stricklin’s is to be in the NCAA tournament.”