Tony Skole

New Citadel baseball coach Tony Skole has begun fall baseball practice with the Bulldogs. 

Coaching Citadel baseball is a job for which Tony Skole will be well paid. The new Bulldogs' coach will get a five-year contract and a starting salary of $125,000 per year.

But for Skole — one of a handful of Bulldogs to play for both of The Citadel's coaching legends, Chal Port and Fred Jordan — the position is more of a family trust than it is a job.

"The responsibility that this position encompasses is so important to me," Skole said Tuesday as he was introduced as just the Bulldogs' third coach since 1965. "I don't want to let Coach Port down, or Coach Jordan, but especially I don't want to let down the former players.

"That's something that I'll wear on my shoulders every day, and something that's constantly in my mind. I don't want to let those guys down. I know how much they care about Citadel baseball, and I will use that to drive me every single day."

Skole is a Citadel Hall of Famer who played for the late Port's College World Series team in 1990, and for the recently retired Jordan during his first season in 1992. Skole also played defensive back for Charlie Taaffe on two Citadel football teams that made the Division I-AA playoffs.

Jordan was among the spectators at Riley Park on Tuesday as Skole, who had a record of 471-538 in 18 seasons at East Tennessee State, outlined his vision for Citadel baseball, which won 12 Southern Conference tournament and regular-season championships in 26 seasons under Jordan.

• On the Bulldogs' recent struggles: "We've got to hit better and pitch better, and make the routine plays. It's not a magic formula — you've got to throw strikes, make the routine plays and get timely hits.

"In talking to our guys, a lot of them don't have confidence right now. It's a game of confidence, and sometimes as a coach, it's hard to instill that in your players. We've got to get the confidence back in our kids."

• On new hitting coach and recruiting coordinator Aaron Gershenfeld, a Vanderbilt assistant who played for Citadel alum Dan McDonnell at Louisville: "Aaron is one of the top young coaches in America, just phenomenal. Coach Jordan brought him here a few years ago as a volunteer coach out of Louisville, and I had him a couple of years at ETSU.

"He'll bring great energy and passion. He's one of the top young catching instructors in the country, and does a great job with hitters. I'll turn him loose on the recruiting trail. (Vandebilt coach) Tim Corbin gave him an unbelievable recommendation, and he'll want him back in a couple of years."

Skole said he's searching for a new pitching coach, and that The Citadel will have a "completely new coaching staff."

• On his style of play: "At first, we'll adjust how we coach to our personnel early and do the best we can. Then we'll slowly recruit to our style of play. It's not much different from Citadel teams in the past; you start with pitching. Every great team in the history of The Citadel, that's where it started.

"Then, we'll recruit a hard-nosed, physical position player that plays with a chip on his shoulder, that brings a certain attitude to the game. I think that's what Citadel baseball is all about."

• On players who have committed to or signed with The Citadel: "All those commitments will be honored. We haven't evaluated all of them, but I've seen some of them. All our guys will be on a fresh slate, a clean start with new eyes on them, and they will be able to make a first impression again."

• On getting The Citadel back to the College World Series in Omaha: "College baseball has evolved and changed a lot since 1990. Omaha is something I think about every day ... Our goal will be to win the SoCon every year, get in the postseason and make a run. We won't shy away from it and from talking about it.

"But we've got to be realistic about it and just try to win every single day."

NOTES

• Athletic director Jim Senter confirmed that Skole, North Greenville's Landon Powell and Presbyterian coach Elton Pollock were the three finalists for the job. Asked if longtime Citadel assistant David Beckley was considered, Senter said, "We looked at a lot of individuals. It became very apparent, with the pool of candidates we had, that we could hire a sitting head coach, and that became what we focused in on."

• A school official said that Johnson Hagood Stadium will have 1,000 bleacher seats on the east side of the stadium for the 2017 football season, bringing stadium capacity to about 11,700. The aging east side of the stadium was recently demolished; long-term renovation plans have been yet to be approved by the Board of Visitors.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at (843) 937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC