The Tabor College baseball team has become one of the best in the KCAC over the last two seasons, and a big reason for the Bluejays’ success has been fourth-year coach Mark Standiford, 46, who still holds the Wichita State career home-run record. Standiford was nice enough to sit down for a chat with The Eagle and Sunflower Slate.
Tabor, ranked No. 17 in the nation is currently 31-5 overall and 15-1 in the KCAC headed into this weekend’s 4-game series with Kansas Wesleyan – here’s the article I wrote on Tabor 3B Adam McCormick that ran in today’s Eagle. McCormick, a senior from Pittsburg, leads the nation with a .520 batting average.
Here’s our talk with Standiford:
Sunflower Slate: You had the best season in school history last year but still came up short of a national playoff bid – how much has that been motivation for this year?
Mark Standiford: Well we’ve finished second the last two years, and we had one bad weekend last year is what it boiled down to. What was disappointing was that we were ranked so high and we came up one game short. But we’ve competed well, we’re happy with the progress … but we do want that postseason bid. We’ve put in bids to try and host (an NAIA regional), so we’re optimistic.
SS: Can a team from the KCAC be a national contender? Can they compete with the schools from California and Florida?
MS: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think so … first year we won 22 games, then we won 33, then won 45 … and we’re doing well so far again this year. We’ve got to overcome some obstacles … we’re not as deep as some of those schools but our topline guys can compete with theirs. Lubbock Christian, the preseason No. 4 team in the country, took 2 of 3 from us, and those losses were close. We also beat Fort Hays State … our non-conference schedule was set up with an eye on the KCAC and, hopefully, the postseason.
SS: Kids that grew up on the west side of Wichita from the mid-90s to a couple of years ago would you remember you as…
MS: (Laughing) Because of Sluggers. I still own the business. I’ve even got a few Sluggers guys with me. We’ve been fortunate to get them here.
SS: After owning your business for so long, being in the private sector and all … why jump into coaching at this level? Why get into college coaching at all?
MS: The challenge. It’s something I always wanted to do. I want to build something. We had 18 players when I got here, now we’ve got between 40-45. To see that improvement is really something. I figured, I’m 46 now … I needed to do it when I did or I would have never done it.
SS: Do you still live in Wichita or have you moved to Hillsboro?
MS: I’m still in Wichita. I don’t mind the commute … I actually enjoy it. I still need to live in Wichita with Sluggers in town and my kids going to Maize.