Fresno State head baseball coach Mike Batesole said his father’s love of baseball, along with his advice, shaped him to be the two-time Collegiate Baseball National Coach of the Year.
“My dad gave me some great advice. I wasn’t necessarily excited about going to school all the time, but you have two choices,” Batesole said. “You can have a career for 30 or 40 years depending on how long your working life is or you can suck it up for a few years, get your degree and now that 30 or 40 years of your working life you get to choose your job.”
After seven successful years as head coach at Cal State Northridge, Batesole accepted the job at Fresno State and has been in charge of the Bulldogs baseball program for 14 years.
“You’ve got to just love the crowds and the support they have here,” Batesole said. “One of the things at Northridge was that it was a baseball team, while at Fresno State it’s a program. This community and our alumni are a big factor. When everyone is pulling on the same end of the rope, it can be a pretty powerful machine.”
Under his leadership, Fresno State has won multiple conference titles along with the 2008 National Championship. Batesole said Fresno State’s college-town atmosphere really brings a sense of excitement to all sports not just baseball. Batesole compared the atmosphere to some of the bigger universities across the country.
“That’s what I really like about it. You get the football, the basketball and it’s almost like Stillwater, Oklahoma. Like Oklahoma State dropped off in California where you still have that college-town feel. You’re not getting that anywhere else in California. It’s just really cool to be a part of something bigger than a baseball team.”
Last season, the Bulldogs secured their first-ever Mountain West Conference regular-season title, and for the 2017 returning players, the goal is to achieve more. With a majority of last year’s team back in the fold, Batesole expects his team to capitalize on its experience early on.
“Generally, if you can have two, man I would die for three returning seniors,” Batesole said. “We’re looking at eight. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a team this old and that have won. We’ve got our entire starting lineup back plus our best reserve.”
With a combination of experience and talent, the Bulldogs have their sights set on improving on last year’s ring-winning season.
Fresno State opens its season with a three-game homestand against the Oregon Ducks on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6 p.m. The Bulldogs begin the year with 14 straight games at home. In total, the ’Dogs will be playing in close to 70 games this season.