Mandy Mitchell

College baseball just getting to its prime

Posted June 7, 2013

Current South Carolina head baseball coach Chad Holbrook remembers life playing in Chapel Hill well.

"When I played there, the cages were all dirt," he said laughing. "Coach (Mike Roberts) would run us, and it was so dusty, we would spit up dirt. It would come through my nose."

A fine illustration of what college baseball used to be back in the day. Way back in 1990, that is, when Holbrook played for the Heels. Not that long ago by normal standards, but it is a different world for the sport these days.

"I went to a regional my freshman year and we played on a football field. In a regional," Holbrook said.

Now every regional game is broadcast online and many on TV. Most coaches are very quick to thank ESPN for the growth of college baseball. The network certainly deserves a bulk of the credit, but I think it goes way deeper than that.

Take Boshamer stadium for example. UNC spent a bunch of money in 2008 to renovate. The capacity is now up to 5,000. The park includes a suite level. It has a lot of the comforts of a major league park. The players have access to a state-of-the-art clubhouse. They have indoor batting cages and a player's lounge. Needless to say, these guys won't be telling stories of coughing up dirt when they reflect on their glory days in 20 years.

The sport also owes some of the boom the last few years to the change in bats. The NCAA changed to a more "wood-like" bat in 2011. Some thought this would hurt popularity at the time of the change, but it's made the game much more watchable. You see fewer 16-14 games and more strategy. You see more high-level pitchers giving the sport a try thanks to the new bats. They know their development will be more like the minor leagues. That wasn't the case in the "ping-era".

"It's made a lot of big strides and improvements," said UNC head coach Mike Fox. "Just sitting (in front of a bunch of media) is new. It's exciting."

And it just continues to get bigger. It's one sport where the "good ol' days" may be now.
 

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  • cjw6105 Jun 7, 7:17 p.m.

    These are the good ole days? Not in Buies Creek.

  • Toddler10-21 Jun 7, 7:31 p.m.

    Still feel for Cambell. Gonna be a great next few days in the triangle!! GO PACK, GO HEELS!!

  • Hokies94 Jun 7, 8:15 p.m.

    I'm really proud of the Heels and the PAck to make it to this point. Either team has the potential to go deep.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Jun 8, 9:00 a.m.

    Glad to see baseball get the recognition it deserves. Get rid of the silly agendas, do the right thing, let CU in next time 'round, and all will be well in Baseball Land.

  • Alex25 Jun 8, 9:41 a.m.

    How pervasive is the UNC-CH NCAA cheating scandal with the baseball team..?

  • StunGunn Jun 9, 2:00 p.m.

    Basketball may be King in these parts, but it is good to see baseball get some recognition. Having State and Carolina with such good teams helps, and the ACC has a lot of excellent teams. Hope an ACC team wins the CWS this year.

  • Hokies94 Jun 11, 6:30 p.m.

    Mandy. You certainly picked the best topic of all other writers in this one. To have two teams next door going to the Super deal is really awesome. I'm kinda close to UNC because of my son, but, I wouldn't bet a dime on this one. Rodon is still the best in my humble opinion. Pitching most times decides all of our close games, but when the bats get hot, then it goes on and on...

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Local
Final
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Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
Final
CLE 108
OKC 98
Final
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DAL 106
Final
ORL 99
IND 106
Final
PHO 100
LAC 120
Final
ATL 112
MIN 100
Final
TOR 114
DET 110
 
Final
SAN 101
MIL 95
3rd
GSW 89
BOS 77
 
4th
DEN 84
WAS 83
 
1st
LAL 6
HOU 14
 
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
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DRAK 40
Final
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DUKE 77
Final
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FAIR 67
 
Final
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MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
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USB 61
 
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MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
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SHU 57
Final
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YALE 72
 
Final
PITT 68
LOU 80
Final
ILLST 53
NIOWA 54
Final
GTDNS 69
UMBC 55
 
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NIAG 64
 
Final
TENST 55
BEL 63
 
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
Final
VILL 71
CREI 50
Final
MD 68
NW 67
 
2nd
UTAH 51
WASH 38
 
Final
TEAMFOLI 12
TEAMTOEWS 17
Half
CARTER 20
IRVIN 19