College Podcast: UC Santa Barbara's Andrew Checketts on Gauchos, Shane Bieber
On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by UC Santa Barbara coach Andrew Checketts to discuss his team's hot start to 2020, what it's like to have just about everyone back from last season, his outstanding starting rotation and coaching Shane Bieber and Joe Kelly.
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The Gauchos were riding high in 2020. They finished the season 13-2 and were last seen pulling off an emphatic sweep of Oregon State on the road. It was just the latest season in an impressive run of seasons for a UCSB program that is clearly operating at a very high level.
That should only continue into 2021, as just about everyone from last season's squad will be back in the fold. That includes a rotation of third-year sophomore righthander Michael McGreevy, third-year sophomore lefthander Rodney Boone and fourth-year junior lefthander Zach Torra, which should be among the very best on the West Coast next season.
Offensively, UCSB still has questions to answer after a rebuilt lineup didn't get much of a chance to show what it could do in 2020, but getting back fifth-year senior shortstop McClain O'Connor, a plus defender who doubles as a quintessential team leader, is huge.
Among the topics discussed on this episode are:
- What went right for UCSB in 2020
- What it says about the returning UCSB players that they wanted to come back to school rather than sign as free agents after the draft
- What it means to have McClain O'Connor back in the fold
- The standout starting rotation and some other pitchers who could be in for big years in 2021
- Why Checketts has stayed at UCSB, even as he has had chances to go elsewhere
- What it has been like for him to watch Shane Bieber succeed at a high level in the big leagues
- Bieber's journey from walk-on at UCSB to Cy Young winner
- What it was like to coach Joe Kelly at UC Riverside