College Baseball’s Greatest Turnaround Ever

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

ROCKLIN, Calif. — The greatest turnaround in college baseball history took place last season at William Jessup University, according to school officials.

This NAIA school had suffered through a dismal 10-34 season in 2017 and only posted a 5-24 record in the Golden State Athletic Conference for last place.

One year later, a miracle happened.

The Warriors rolled to a 41-17 overall record — an increase of 31 wins over the previous year — and a 27-9 mark in conference which was capped by the GSAC regular-season title and the program’s first-ever NAIA post-season tournament bid.

Batters hit an anemic .232 with 22 homers in 2017 and committed 91 errors in 44 games with a 6.06 ERA.

A year later, the team had one of the most powerful offenses in college baseball as William Jessup hit .331, belted an NAIA high 94 homers and averaged 8.2 runs per game with 119 doubles.

The team ERA fell to 4.53 while only 77 errors were committed in 14 more games (58).

This special report by Collegiate Baseball explains how the program was turned around so quickly.

New Coaching Staff
After a difficult 2017 season, Head Coach Mike Hankins resigned.

Jake McKinley, who spent the previous four years as the head coach at Menlo College, took the position June 1.

He then brought on board Trevor Paine and Tai Mitchell from Menlo College as assistant coaches in July.

“I knew the program had potential,” said Paine who replaced McKinley last December when McKinley accepted a position with the Milwaukee Brewers.

“In 2017, William Jessup beat us twice that year and played us tough a couple of other times.

“We knew there were some good players at William Jessup. We just had to recruit more talented players and bring everything together.

“Once we came over in July of 2017, Tai, Jake and I used all of our connections to bring in as many good players as possible.”

The trio went to work and landed 15 talented players who were still available at that late date knowing school was set to start in late August.

“Jake had been in the NAIA at Menlo College for four years. He always talked about how he got his best recruits late in the process. He rarely wanted to rush into offering players scholarships.

“Honestly, we got lucky on some very good players who were still available. Some of the ball players we got didn’t receive offers from the schools they wanted to play at or they felt scholarship offers weren’t good enough.

“Then you always get a couple of guys who are leaving NCAA Div. I schools. That helped. We were able to quickly piece together a very talented recruiting class at the last minute.

“Looking back at the starting lineup we had in 2018, we only had two returners. Seven of the position players were guys we brought in over July and August of 2017.”

Quick Overview
Paine said the first order of business when the players came together for the first time in late August of 2017 was to bring everyone together.

“Our hope was to bring the veterans and new players together and not have any separation. You are always concerned when you have players from the previous coach and new players you recruited.

“We felt we had a chance to at least double the win total of 2017. But the guys came together much quicker than we anticipated. The culture was great and guys bought into what we were trying to do.

“We got hot and played confidently. The returners had gone through a lot of losses over several seasons. When that happens over a period of time, players develop bad habits. You go into every series and every game thinking your chances of winning aren’t very good.

“You need to teach them how to win and how not to lose.

“The culture and environment we put all of our players in every day was vital to improvements in the win column.”

Paine said the players relaxed and played to their full potential.

“We let players be themselves, not carefree, but play loose and have fun.”

To read more of this story, purchase the March 22, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Paine explains his incredible hitting system, vision training which utilizes pitch occlusion and the use of extreme shifting on defense if data shows certain batters hit balls consistently in locations, plus more.