Defensive Mentality A Priority For WVU Baseball’s Mark Ginther
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s not often that a coach moves directly from one school in a conference to another — especially in baseball. However, that’s just the situation that West Virginia baseball assistant Mark Ginther found himself in when he accepted an offer to join the Mountaineer staff last summer. He’s had seven months to get acclimated to the switch from Oklahoma State to WVU, and found several similarities that have helped ease the transition.
A four-year veteran of the Oklahoma State coaching staff, Ginther was the volunteer assistant from 2016-18 and the player development coordinator in 2015. That followed a four-year career as a Cowboy player from 2009-12, in which he was a two-time All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection, playing in two NCAA Tournaments.
“It is pretty unique to change schools in the same conference,” he said in the week leading up to WVU’s 2019 opener on Feb. 15. “There is familiarity with the other teams and the other coaching staffs, and that will help smooth the transition a little bit. Coming from Stillwater to Morgantown, they are both college towns, so it’s not too different. The transition has been smooth.”
Still, it is a different mindset in coaching players that he used to be scouting and game planning against, but after getting to know them during offseason workouts and fall practice, he has developed the relationships he believes he needs to help them improve.
“Guys like Darius (Hill), (Tyler) Doanesy, (Braden) Zarb, Chase (Illig), (Alek) Manoah, (Sam) Kessler, those are guys that I’ve watched hours of film on. It’s nice to see the other end of it, and coach them. I think the first thing I did was check my notes as sort of a starting point with them. Once you get going in practice, you get to know them much more on a personal level.”
In addition to getting to know his new players, Ginther had one early goal for WVU/
“I wanted to bring a little bit of the defensive mindset from my background. Being an infielder my whole life, it’s taking pride in your defense. It’s a mentality of defense first.”
A third baseman during his career at OSU, Ginther knows the value of solid defense, especially in the college game. Errors and walks are the two biggest bugaboos for teams in the field, and he hopes to help the Mountaineers cut down on the former with an attention to fundamentals. His attention to that play phase is one of the reasons that head coach Randy Mazey brought him aboard.
“I’ve known his coaching style for a while now. Definitely the picks, the defensive mindset is different,” Ginther said of Mazey’s approach to the game. “It’s unique. He takes pride in that, and those are things you notice. The throw behinds, the sleepers, there’s a million different plays. It’s a credit to him and to his coaching ability with the little details in the defense. I relate to that really well. We’re really connecting on defensive stuff.”