End of an Era

In his 28 years as head coach at South Alabama, Steve Kittrell led the Jags to 1052 wins, most in program history and in the top 50 in college baseball history. Yet his amazing career ended with a thud as USA lost 11-0 to FIU and 12-9 to ASU in their second and third games in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

Certainly the last few seasons of Coach Kittrell's tenure (87-85 in the last three seasons) are not indicative of what he accomplished over his storied career. As a player under the equally-legendary Eddie Stanky, Kittrell had a career batting average of .368, a record that still stands for four-year players at USA. After a year of minor league ball and then a year as an assistant to Stanky, he enjoyed a successful career as ahead coach at the prep level (Niceville, FL and UMS), junior college (Enterprise CC) and NAIA (Spring Hill) ranks. While at UMS he led them to the first state title in any sport in the school's history.

Taking over for Stanky in 1984, Coach Kittrell won 50 games in his first year, an indication of what was to come. Under his guidance, the Jags won eight conference tournaments, 10 regular season titles and appeared in the NCAA tournament 18 times. Sadly, what many remember is that on six different occasions his teams were one win from advancing to the College World Series but came up short. Typically they would be facing a power team from a power conference and would not be able to match their pitching depth at the end of a super-regional.

During his the height of his success, Coach K attracted a load of talent to Mobile. 17 of his former players have made it to the Major Leagues and several more are still playing minor league baseball and may still make it.

Head coach-in-waiting Mark Calvi will now take the reigns of this program that has been raised to such a high level by his two predecessors. Focusing on recruiting this year, he has gathered a group of players that inspire hopes of a return to the top of the conference. Jag fans can only hope that he can continue in the successful, highly-respected manner of the man he is replacing.

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