The wins just keep on coming for Rick O’Dette. And for Saint Leo University baseball, too.
The fifth-year coach recorded his 100th win with the Lions, when the team defeated Rollins College, on a score of 9-7, on March 27.
“It’s been great (being at Saint Leo),” O’Dette said. “I think it’s a hidden gem of a school and program, and I think that we’ve found the right recipe to be successful.”
He attributes the team’s winning formula to achieving the proper mix of kids entering Saint Leo from high school, as well as transfers to the college from other programs.
O’Dette is no stranger to success. He came to Saint Leo from Saint Joseph’s College of Indiana, where he led the Pumas for 17 seasons, compiling a 494-407-4 overall record. So on April 12, O’Dette picked up his 600th career win when the Lions beat Florida Tech 8-2.
He now ranks fourth in total wins in the Sunshine State Conference among active head coaches, behind University of Tampa’s Joe Urso, Rollins College’s Jon Sjogren and Barry University’s Juan Ranero, respectively.
“It’s been a good year (so far),” said O’Dette, whose son, Ricky, is a pitcher at Wesley Chapel High. “I think we knew coming in we were a good team, but there is a lot of time to go here, but we’re playing at a good level.”
Saint Leo has been ranked as high as 12th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II Top 30 Poll, and the Lions also saw the return of their No. 1 starter, Jared Beck — a 7-foot, left-handed pitcher projected to go high in the MLB Draft.
“Getting (Jared) back will be a big boost,” O’Dette said.
But for now, O’Dette wants his team to stay focused and not get too far ahead of itself, which means finishing out the season strong before hopefully a deep postseason run.
“I think the biggest thing for us is to get in the national tournament,” he said. “We have a mature lineup, really good stuff, and we’re getting the opportunity to use a lot of guys, and figuring out what’s clicking and working. I think we have an exciting opportunity to go far this season.”
Published April 27, 2022
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