Two days after UC Riverside coach Doug Smith withdrew his name from consideration for the UC Irvine job (which was vacated when Dave Serrano left for another Big West school, Cal State Fullerton), the Highlanders have announced their new pitching coach–and not surprisingly, he has a Big West background. UCR hired former Irvine assistant and former Cal Poly reliever Nathan Choate to replace Andrew Checketts, who left the Highlanders to become the pitching coach under George Horton at Oregon.
“Nathan was intimately involved with everything that happened on that pitching staff and bears a lot of the responsibility as to why they were successful,” Smith said. “I am very pleased to have Nathan on our staff. I think he is a great fit for our program. He is a young, energetic guy with great passion and I feel very fortunate for him to be with us.”
Meanwhile, former Southern California coach Mike Gillespie has emerged as the front-runner for the Irvine job, sources indicate. But the search process has continued this week even after Smith canceled his scheduled interview.
Indiana State coach Lindsay Meggs, whose California roots include a playing career at UCLA and two Division II national championships as a coach at Chico State, interviewed for the job Wednesday. One wrinkle here: Indiana State director of athletics Ron Prettyman is the father of former Fullerton third baseman Ronnie Prettyman, and he could be a candidate for Irvine’s vacant athletics director post.
One final candidate scheduled to interview today is Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso. Though he lacks true California roots–he was an assistant at Georgia Tech prior to heading to Hawaii, and he played his college ball at Oklahoma State–Trapasso has experience recruiting in California. Twenty-one players on Hawaii’s roster hail from the Golden State.
A decision still seems likely by the end of the week, but an announcement might not come until Monday. It’s hard to imagine this process dragging out much longer than that.
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