We’ve got a couple of interesting news items from last week to pass along. On Tuesday, Arkansas State hired former Mississippi State assistant Tommy Raffo to be its head coach, replacing Keith Kessinger, who declined the school’s contract extension offer at the end of the season. Raffo spent the last 15 years at MSU, where he was the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, and he was one of the front-runners to succeed Ron Polk as the head coach in Starkville. But when the Bulldogs hired John Cohen away from Kentucky, the Tribe was eager to court Raffo, one of the most highly regarded assistants in the nation. He’ll hit the ground running in Jonesboro.
“We are extremely pleased to hire a coach with the background and experience of competing at the highest level that Tommy Raffo brings,” Arkansas State athletics director Dr. Dean Lee said in a statement. “We had an extremely strong pool of candidates for this position, and feel that Coach Raffo was unquestionably the best fit to take over the Arkansas State baseball program. Tommy is highly respected in the coaching field for his integrity and for his superior knowledge of the game.”
On Wednesday, Evansville filled its head coaching vacancy from within. The Purple Aces replaced former coach David Seifert with Seifert’s top assistant, former Evansville infielder Wes Carroll, who starred for the Aces from 1998 to 2001 and reached Triple-A with the Nationals (where he played with his brother Jamey, now an infielder for the Indians). Shortly after retiring from pro ball in 2006, Carroll joined Seifert’s staff at Evansville, serving as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator.
"This is a dream job scenario for me," Carroll said. "When I stepped foot on this campus for the first time in 1997 under the leadership of Jim Brownlee, I knew I wanted to be here for a long, long time. Now it’s time to start working, and getting this program to match up to the vision I have for it.
“The next six months will be about getting my staff in place, hitting the road to talk with recruits about the University of Evansville, and making sure we have strong team chemistry. That means developing a mentality and a focus on winning. We need to create an atmosphere of success, and give our kids the resources they need on and off the field to be successful. A lot of that comes from a leader, and as their leader, that’s my responsibility."
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