Image credit: Navy coach Paul Kostacopoulos (Photo courtesy of Navy)
This week on the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos.
The Midshipmen have been newsworthy of late for a number of reasons.
Over the last half-decade, the program has been on a tear in the Patriot League. They’ve won at least a share of the conference regular season title and 37 or more games in each of the last five seasons, achieving a level of consistency not often seen at the mid-major level.
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“It really starts, certainly, with the players, and quite frankly, the coaching staff, primarily the assistant coaches,” Kostacopoulos said. “If you look at the near-term success, we’ve had in the last five years or so, just a great assistant coach in Jeff Kane, who’s done a great job with the hitters. Coach Bob Applegate has done a great job with the pitchers. (And) I think a synergy among us all of working together has created a constant model of what we want to do.”
Individually, the 2019 team drew plenty of eyes due to the outstanding senior season put together by ace righthander Noah Song, who capped off his baseball career at Navy by striking out 161 batters in 94 innings of work on the way to being drafted in the fourth round by the Red Sox.
Kostacopoulos admits that he’s not typically the type of coach who is able to relax before and during a game, but when Song was on the mound, it was a different story.
“When Noah was on the field, I almost stepped back and just wanted to enjoy watching him throw, and I can’t say I’ve done that an awful lot, because my personality dictates more of that kind of edginess,” Kostacopoulos said. “But when he threw, it was a joy to watch him pitch.”
Most recently, this program has been in the news thanks to the announcement that it will be playing its 2020 rivalry series with Army at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
In 2018, the teams played a doubleheader at Camden Yards in Baltimore and a single game at Fenway Park in Boston, but this setup will be unique in that the big league park will host the entirety of a three-game series over two days.
“Certainly, the Phillies organization is incredible in allowing two days in a professional park to play,” Kostacopoulos said. “I don’t know how many professional organizations would do that. So, it’s a heartfelt thanks to the Phillies organization for making this happen.”
Without the best player in the history of the Navy program in the fold, the Midshipmen seem like prime candidates to take a step back in 2020, but that assumption is likely misguided.
A number of veteran pieces return to the roster, and at this point, Kostacopoulos more than deserves the benefit of the doubt that he will have his team competing for championships.