Fall wrap-up Q&A with Coach Elbin

BLACKSBURG - The Virginia Tech baseball fall competitive season is complete and opening day 2018 is less than three months away. The calendar is about to hit December and final exams and the semester break will soon take the student-athletes away from campus. Before that happens, though, the Hokies coaching staff will reflect on its first fall in Blacksburg with a couple of Q&A's. Next up is assistant coach Kurt Elbin.

Q: Briefly explain your role during the Fall World Series – how much or how little were you involved with team decisions, Orange vs. Maroon?
KE: “Initially, I told them that the first five innings – in the seven-inning games – were theres. So, amongst their coaches and amongst each other, if they wanted to run, or do some small-game stuff, they were on their own. I said that if the games got tight from the sixth inning on, then I would run our offense to win. That didn’t happen in Games 1 and 2, because they were blowouts, so they just did their own things. But if you look at that Game 3, there were some guys that we did some run-and-hits, we stole some bags, we got involved a little more as coaches just to put guys in situations to score some runs. It was a good game and it worked out. In that last inning, when Orange was going, I asked Nic Enright, the coach for the Orange team, what he wanted to do and we put a plan together and it worked out.”

Q: What did you see that you really liked?
KE: “I think the team really grew in terms of what our thoughts were going into it. First off, we had to evaluate them and that was the first five to seven intrasquads. Then after that, we wanted to try and put in some things to see if they could execute it. Overall, they did a good job of running our offense and being aggressive on the bases with the small game. So, overall, we were pretty pleased with the direction of the way it’s going. We just really need to get healthy, so we can see what everyone can do.”

Q: Was there anything that you saw that made you think – ‘OK, we need to improve here’?
KE: “I think we can always improve on getting better at certain areas, but the biggest thing for us is getting healthy, it really is. I think there are still some question marks on the position player side of things and what the offense is completely going to look like. I have a pretty good idea of what we are going to be strong at and what we won’t be, but what we need to continue to improve on is walk-to-strikeout ratio, that was just OK for me. We need to continue to be competitive throughout an entire at-bat, I think at times, we gave some at-bats away. Those things won’t ever go away, no matter how good you feel you are. But the biggest, glaring issue coming out of the fall is health.”

Q: Who, if anyone, surprised you during the fall?
KE: “I think Sam Fragale really impressed me. The way he plays with so much energy really surprised me. And then Tom Stoffel, I think he is a pretty complete hitter. I looked at numbers and I knew he was one of the top hitters in the ACC. I just didn’t expect him to have that good of a feel for his swing, how to work counts, and being able to put the barrel on the baseball. So, he was one of them and then just Fragale with how he plays, the energy he brings all game is what really surprised me.”

Q: You have a coaching philosophy of how you want to approach a game – was there any time during the fall that you realized you might need to alter that, or can you stick with it with the players you currently have?
KE: “Going back to health, every time we looked to do something (during the Fall World Series), the person who was being asked to execute a situation was not a player we would foresee being in that position during the spring. Jack Owens, Nick Owens, those are guys who we are going to ask to do things to manufacture runs. Sam Fragale, Tom Stoffel are guys that are going to stand up and hit. Then there are guys that we are going to ask to do the small things to help score runs. That being said, when those situations came up, more often than not, there were players that were being asked to do those things that we are not going to ask to do in the spring – the personnel just didn’t match up.”

Q: Your first fall is in the books. Is there anything that you’d change overall or would like to do more of next fall?
KE: “I would like to do more in getting involved in first-and-third offenses, or running offense during the intrasquads. We had to get an idea of who could do what and seeing who has the ability to do certain things. Most of the fall was putting in philosophies and team defenses and things like that and then watching them play. So, to get your hands on them and do a lot of things offensively that are intricate that will allow us to score runs in the spring, we didn’t do a ton of it because we were trying to figure out who’s going to be able to play.”

For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter