When Greg Beals accepted the Ohio State baseball coaching job last summer, it was like coming home for the Springfield, Ohio, native.
Now, with 21 games under his belt, Beals has passed the transition phase of being a new coach and led the Buckeyes to a 10-11 record, including a 2-1 start in Big Ten play.
The 10-11 record might not have been what Beals first envisioned, but he said the team is where it needs to be right now and that a tough pre-conference schedule helped it gain experience for conference play.
The schedule Beals set up included six games in California, where OSU went 1-5, losing games against then-No. 15 California and No. 10 Fresno State.
“We are not going to see anything better than what we saw out in California,” Beals said. “During the preseason you’ve got to put your team in the fire at some point so that it doesn’t happen in the conference, and then all of a sudden you have a bad week, and you are like, ‘Oh my, we are not that good.'”
That California trip was part of the process for the players and new coach to connect and get used to one another. The upperclassmen had to adjust to Beals after playing for Hall-of-Fame coach Bob Todd, who retired at the end of last season.
Senior co-captain and outfielder Brian DeLucia said the change has been easy and that Beals has been great in making the transition.
“He’s amazing at communicating and finding out what we like, finding what he likes and correlating both,” DeLucia said.
Beals said he felt the coaches and players connected early, but the last phase of that connection is always in competition, which they have now faced.
“I really feel good about the guys who were here before and how they handled the change in leadership,” Beals said. “I think our guys now understand what it means to do what we were talking about in competition.”
Being the new coach provided a situation in which the upperclassmen and freshmen did not know what to expect. It also gave the freshmen a way to connect with their coach that the upperclassmen did not have.
“For us, we both got our first win at Bill Davis (Stadium) together, so we do share other things that the upperclassmen don’t get to, which is kind of cool,” said freshman first baseman Josh Dezse.
After their weekend series against Northwestern, Dezse and Beals picked up win Nos. 2 and 3 at Bill Davis Stadium. Although the coach said he does not know at what point he got settled in, he felt being the coach at a school like OSU helped force him to do it in a hurry.
“The competitor in me and my desire to be good takes over, and when the shots start coming, you just go do what you do,” Beals said.
Winning three out of his first four home games might not have hurt either.