Editor’s note: Dave Schrage is the new Jackrabbits baseball coach. He takes over for Ritchie Price, who took an assistant coach job at Kansas. Schrage has 23 years of experience as a Division I head coach, most recently at Notre Dame. The Collegian caught up with him to see how things are going.
You went to Creighton and stayed around the midwest throughout your career, is knowing the area a boost to recruiting?
I think it is. This was a really nice fit for me to get the opportunity to come back [to the Midwest] because a lot of the recruiting bases I’ve used are in the past are from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and the Dakotas, so I was thankful for the opportunity and being able to keep those contacts going.
How are you liking SDSU and Brookings so far?
I love it. It’s exactly what I thought it would be: hard working players. Every day they bring their hard hat and lunch pale and [say] ‘let’s get after it’. Great support here, great leadership at our university from the president all the way down to our athletic director. Good vision for what we want to do and the type of school where our kids get a good education. I’ve only been here two months but I feel right at home.
Before you were hired, what were some of the things that excited you about SDSU baseball?
I think it’s one of the best kept secrets in college baseball right now. They’ve put together two quality seasons. Look through the rest of the teams in the country and see how many have won 65 games over the last two years– not many. So it’s a program that’s winning and it’s a great time to be here with only being in division one for six years. The vision of where we’re going and the leadership of how we’re going to get there. That’s what excited me about it because it’s a growing program that’s won already and we’re still in the infant stages. I think the Summit is a good league and we’ve been knocking at the door to win it.
How’d the fall season go?
It’s been great. I think the main thing is that we have a good core group of seniors who have played for three years. I told this team I’m not here to reinvent the game of baseball; they’ve had some success. I think you have to have three things to win: great team unity, great work ethic and you have to believe you’re going to win, and this group has that already. From a coaching perspective, we didn’t have to build those things into this group, so what we had to do was focus on what our weaknesses were last year and why are we just falling short.
You’ve been at some rebuilding programs, you now have a team that’s made three straight conference tournaments, how do you like your team’s chances at a fourth run?
The key to our ball club is the health of [pitcher] Layne Somsen. He was a big help to the team two years ago and we lost [Blake] Treinen from our club last year, one of our top pitchers. If Layne can step in and replace him then we’re not going to miss a beat. Besides Layne, we have Kolton Emery and Steve Bougher back in the rotation. I think we’re going to see some of our freshman pitchers who have had a good fall-JD Moore and Adam Bray- pitch a lot too.