Hokies pitching coach examines his first fall in Blacksburg

Photo Courtesy of VT Athletics
Ryan Fecteau

The Virginia Tech baseball fall competitive season is complete and opening day 2018 is less than three months away. The calendar is about to hit December and final exams and the semester break will soon take the student-athletes away from campus. Before that happens, though, the Hokies coaching staff will reflect on its first fall in Blacksburg with a couple of Q&A’s. First up is pitching coach Ryan Fecteau.

Q: Briefly explain your role during the Fall World Series – how much or how little were you involved with team decisions, Orange vs. Maroon?

RF: “I set up the starting pitchers and throughout the game, I would call the pitches for both teams. I would work with each coach, so Nic Enright (Orange team captain) and Connor Coward (Maroon), and we would develop a game plan going into the game with who would be the first one out of the pen and throughout the game. Then, we would see how the game was progressing and just react from that with who we were going to go with because sometimes it just changed a little bit according to situations, but for the most part it stayed as scripted.”

Q: What did you see that you really liked?

RF: “Overall, I thought the pitching staff did a pretty good job of getting better week-to-week. I thought they did a pretty good job with throwing strikes for the most part. Some bright spots were the consistency that I saw out of guys like Joey Sullivan and Graham Seitz. I thought Ian Seymour and Ryan Okuda really continued to get better every single week and proved that they’re going to be two really high-level impact guys on this team and in the conference. I thought a lot of the young guys had an opportunity to get their feet wet and I think they were able to work on any weaknesses during the fall. It also helped us identify some of what we need to work on moving forward going into the offseason. I thought a lot of the guys did a really good job of doing some things that might not have been comfortable for them to work on, but necessary for them to make a jump or make an improvement.”

Q: Was there anything that you saw that made you think – ‘OK, we need to improve here’?

RF: “Honestly, I think we need to improve in all areas. I think that goes with every team though. We only had about half of our pitching staff throwing, but I think from what I saw from the guys that threw this fall, we need to do a better job a getting ahead of hitters, consistently throw strikes and use all of our pitches in any type of count. In game situations, holding runners on, executing pick-off plays, all those little things that we implemented this fall that are new to these guys, we just need to get more familiar and more comfortable doing those things.”

Q: Who, if anyone, surprised you during the fall?

RF: “I’m not sure if anyone really surprised me. Every guy is brand new to us, so it’s kind of tough to be surprised because we weren’t familiar with anyone. I think some of the guys that really stood out, though, were the two freshman left-handers, Seymour and Okuda, they had pretty standout falls for young guys. Also, I thought it was good to see Connor Yoder come back at the end of the fall just to show us what he has. He hadn’t been on a mound for a long time and it was good for him – for his own well-being – to see that he can go out there and do it – face live batters and it not be the first time come spring.”

Q: You have a pitching philosophy of how you want to run a pitching staff – was there any time during the fall that you realized you might need to alter that, or can you stick with it with the staff you currently have?

RF: “There is an adjustment to both sides of it, but I’ve got to do a good job of adjusting to what guys are here and figure out what their strengths are and putting them into the best situations to succeed. We’ve got plenty of guys on this staff that are capable of pitching at a high level and getting guys out, so, it’s just a matter of us figuring out what roles to put them in – putting them in the right situations to succeed. They all have their niche on this staff, it’s just figuring it out.”

Q: Your first fall is in the books. Is there anything that you’d change overall or would like to do more of next fall?

RF: “I thought the fall was pretty good. The trouble that you have when you’re new is everything is brand new to guys, so you’re going to have some struggles when you start implementing some stuff. So, hopefully next year there’s some familiarity with everything so that things will run a little smoother once we come out of the gates. But I really like what we’ve done and I think the guys have bought into everything and there seems to be some good energy. Guys like to come to the field and compete, but we just still need to figure out who’s going to pitch when and in what situations.”

— VT athletics

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