Tom Skole was an integral part of the most successful baseball team in the history of The Citadel, playing third base on the 1990 team that reached the College World Series.
Now Skole's goal is to be part of the second Bulldog team to make a trip …
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Now Skole's goal is to be part of the second Bulldog team to make a trip to Omaha, Neb., for the CWS. If he does it again, it will be as the head coach of the Charleston military school, where he is set to begin his first season in charge of the program.
"Of course, that's the goal," said Skole, who was in Sumter last week speaking to the Palmetto Rotary Club at Sunset Country Club. "It's (the College World Series) such a special place to go to. I wish every college baseball player could have the opportunity to experience it.
"You realize just how special it is once you've had the opportunity to be there and take part in it."
First things first for Skole though. Skole, who was also a standout football player for The Citadel and was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011, is taking over a program that went 16-35 overall and just 7-17 in the Southern Conference. And that was done with Sumter native and All-American left-handed pitcher John Patrick Sears, who was 7-2 on the season with a 2.03 earned run average. Sears is now a member of the New York Yankees organization.
The Citadel begins practice on Friday leading up to the season opener against George Mason on Feb. 16. Skole believes the team made steady progress during fall practice leading up to the 2018 season.
"We had to make some changes in our approach and as fall practice went on we began to improve," Skole said. "One thing we have is a lot of returning players, so we have experience."
One of those returnees is Sumter native and former Wilson Hall standout William Kinney. He is the Bulldogs' shortstop, starting all 51 games last season. He has started 159 of the 161 games The Citadel has played in his first three years.
Kinney batted .240 last season, but led the team in doubles with 14, a triple and two home runs with 27 runs batted in. He was 9-for-9 in stolen bases.
"William is the epitome of a Citadel baseball player," Skole said.
Skole succeeded Fred Jordan, for whom he played in his senior season of 1992, after Jordan retired. Skole played for legendary Citadel head coach Chal Port his first three seasons.
"This has been a special place for me," Skole said of The Citadel. "And this is a special job to get because they've only had two coaches in the past 50 years."
Skole has earned 566 wins during his career, including a school-record 471 at ETSU. His 471 Division I wins are the most among current Southern Conference head coaches.
He began his coaching career at Lincoln Memorial University, where he led the program through a transition from NAIA to Division II, and became the head coach at ETSU in 2000.
In 2013, he guided ETSU to 36 wins, the school's first Atlantic Sun Tournament championship and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1981. His 2011 team also won 36 games, capturing the program's most wins since 1982.
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