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Baseball: Swarbrick taps Aoki to replace Schrage after poor season

Chris Masoud | Friday, August 20, 2010

A disappointing 22-32 overall record in the 2010 season led to the end of Dave Schrage’s four years at the top of the Notre Dame baseball program.

The Irish lost 10 of their final 12 games and posted a 10-17 record in the Big East.
Notre Dame director of athletics Jack Swarbrick announced his decision not to retain Schrage in mid-June after the Irish failed to qualify for the Big East Championships for the first time in 15 years. Schrage compiled a 119-104-1 record during his tenure, including a 36-win season in 2009.

“I appreciate all the contributions Dave has made over the past four seasons to Notre Dame baseball,” Swarbrick said in a June 14 press conference. “Like Dave and his staff and his players, we all would have liked to have enjoyed more success, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort or commitment.”

A full month after Schrage’s departure, Swarbrick announced the hiring of Mik Aoki as the new head coach. Aoki, the 20th coach in program history, comes to Notre Dame after leading Boston College to its second consecutive ACC tournament berth in his fourth year at the helm of the Eagles. The Massachusetts native brings an overall Division I record of 201-248-1 (.448), which includes a five-year stint at Columbia.

“I think the expectations are high at Notre Dame, obviously,” Aoki said. “The trip to Omaha in 2002 certainly raised the bar, and you couple that with the fact with Notre Dame is clearly a university that expects to excel at everything that they do, whether it’s academia, or athletics, or community service.”

Accustomed to the challenges of winning in a cold-weather environment, recruiting at an elite academic institution, and player development, Aoki believes a change in attitude and the right personnel can bring the program back to excellence.

“It’s a situation where we’re going to have to change the culture and change the mindset a little bit,” Aoki said. “And obviously get talented kids in there and hopefully get back to the point where we’re winning Big East championships and competing in the NCAA Tournament, and getting to Omaha.”

Despite a losing record, Schrage’s final season still had several highlights, both team and individual.

The Irish opened the season with a three-game road sweep of Mississippi Valley State, including a 19-3 rout in the final game of the series, the first in program history. In addition, the squad posted a 9-3 record during a 12-game stretch in the heart of the conference season, securing series victories over Big East foes Seton Hall and Cincinnati.