The Big Walnut High School Baseball Team is off to a good start this season under coach Jack Schone, and former Big Walnut Head Coach Chris Holly is also off to a good start as an assistant coach with Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops Baseball Team.
To bring newer Big Walnut-area residents up-to-speed, Holly took Big Walnut Baseball to its first-ever District and Regional championships in District II, capped with a trip to the DII Final Four at Clipper Stadium in 2015. When the Ohio High School Athletic Association re-calibrated districts for 2016, Big Walnut was bumped to DI, and Holly’s team took a DI District Championship.
Then there was a coaching change and Holly seemed to fall off the map, until this spring when Holly resurfaced as an assistant coach with pitching responsibilities for OWU under Bishops head coach Tyler Mott.
“Ohio Wesleyan Baseball has a great coaching staff with a lot of baseball knowledge, so it’s been a nice transition,” Holly said. “I get along with all the players. They work really hard; they’re a great bunch to be around. I love it.”
Holly said there are 38 players on the Bishops roster, 15 of them are pitchers, so he has almost half the team under his umbrella much of the time; and Holly said coaching at the college level is much different than coaching a high school team.
“Coaching at the college level is definitely a little bit different than high school, and that’s probably an understatement,” Holly said. “Just the time that we’re on the field — playing 9 innings every game, 18 innings when we have a doubleheader – makes for a long day; and there’s no run-rule that could cut a game short.”
Holly also noted that college baseball players have a higher level of maturity and definitely more athleticism than high school student-athletes. He said many high school baseball team members will not play college ball, but he has the opportunity to coach the ones with the desire and the ability to play at the college level.
Pitcher Jackson Brownstein, a sophomore from Texas who was the starting pitcher during the first game on Saturday, March 25, a home double-header against Penn State-Behrend, said he likes Holly’s coaching style.
“He’s been here and watched us pitch over the winter and for spring scrimmages,” Brownstein said. “He’s attentive, and he’s been able to carry that into the game.”
Coach Mott said Holly has made a smooth transition from high school to college baseball.
“Chris brought a lot of baseball knowledge along with him when he joined our coaching staff,” Mott said. “He’s working with a lot of experienced players and an interesting blend from freshmen through seniors. We’re grateful to have Chris with the program.”
Ohio Wesleyan University is a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference and is an NCAA Division III school. In addition to Mott as head coach, Holly joins Fody Frentsos and Steve Little as the Battling Bishop’s assistant baseball coaches.
The Bishops are home this weekend for two conference double-headers at Littick Field in Delaware where they take on Wabash, games Saturday and Sunday – first games each day start at noon.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.