UNCG Baseball head coach Link Jarrett is a grilling man. He identifies ribeye as his favorite cut
“Or a boneless, skinless chicken thigh.” That’s what he had been eating for lunch, but by the time his interview started, all that was left were the seasoned drippings in a tupperware container.
He poured that out, a choice some may disagree with; there was major sauce potential in that pool of chicken drippings.
It’s much harder to disagree with Coach Jarrett’s choices on the field. After an up-and-down start to his tenure at UNCG, things have fallen into place.
He led his team to a SoCon Tournament championship and a berth in College World Series regionals in 2017, while this year’s team currently owns a fantastic 26-9 record. That’s no accident—when Coach Jarrett arrived at UNCG in 2012, he had a vision, and that vision is now becoming reality.
“All in all, you felt like this program was in a position to make some steps forward [when I first came to UNCG],” Coach Jarrett said. “Our recruiting efforts have helped us and the junior college players that we’ve been able to attract have helped. We’ve been able to do enough with in-state recruits that we’ve developed, coming in as high school players, and I think we’re in a fairly good position right now.”
Under Jarrett’s leadership, UNCG hasn’t just excelled on the diamond; they’ve excelled in the classroom, too. That’s an achievement that Jarrett takes great pride in.
“Academically, our guys really excel,” Jarrett said. “I think that trying to get the culture oriented to being elite in the classroom and on the field is the transition we tried to make my first few years here.”
It worked—two of his players, Chad Sykes and Matt Frisbee, were named as UNCG Golden Chain Honor Society inductees two weeks ago, a prestigious organization that requires at least a 3.25 GPA. Between that and his team’s on-the-field success, Jarrett is poised for greatness at UNCG.
Hopefully, that greatness will come this season.
“I’d like to win the [SoCon] regular season title. I think we have a team that’s capable of doing it. We have to stay healthy. We have to get more consistent starts in game three of our series… That would be neat. It’s a long season, and to come out on top… it doesn’t guarantee anything other than the fact that you were the regular season champion. So that’s something we’ve obviously worked hard to try to get to.”
Yet UNCG Baseball isn’t content with a regular season conference championship. They want more.
“[Winning] the conference tournament guarantees you into the NCAA Tournament to play for a national title. Once you’re in that tournament, man, anyone can win it.”
If UNCG plans to make some waves in the College World Series, it’ll start with pitching. Touting a solid starting rotation anchored by the 7-0 Frisbee and a devastating bullpen featuring 2017 MLB Draft selection Jack Maynard, the Spartans certainly have the talent to compete with the best of the best.
“Everything in our sport revolves around what happens on that mound. To have quality starts from Frisbee and [Bryce] Hensley… you know, our Sunday starters have been spotty, but to lengthen out your Friday and Saturday starts to take some of that wear and tear on our bullpen. But you want to limit the amount that you bounce those guys back-to-back days and sort of keep their innings under control… But it’s huge. The pitching is huge.”
But it’s not the pitching, the defense or the hitting (UNCG has two of the best hitters in the conference in Cesar Trejo and Andrew Moritz) that’s been the X-factor behind UNCG’s success. No, what’s been most crucial to these Spartans is something far less quantifiable: Team chemistry.
“They’re good guys,” Coach Jarrett said. “It’s a high character, high make-up, academically high achieving group. These are good guys. They rally around each other and they believe in what we’re doing here and they believe in each other. When you have that atmosphere, it’s what equates to the chemistry you see on the field.”
With their sights set on Omaha, they’ll certainly need to rally around each other as the regular season begins to wind down. UNCG will be back in action this weekend for a three-game series against Samford.