By: Kyle Prudhomme
Kevin Barnaby is familiar with Fitchburg State University. He is familiar with the Massachusetts State Athletic Conference. He is familiar with returning players. And he may be the right fit at the helm of the Falcons baseball team.
“This is everything I’ve ever wanted,” said the Leominster native. “I want to make this my home. I want to retire the school’s winningest head coach.”
After the team posted a 12-19 record in the spring and saw first year head coach Ryan Parker step down in the summer, Barnaby took a chance in returning to Fitchburg State. He accepted a position at the school on June 18, returning to FSU as head coach after serving as assistant to Keith Brouillard during the 2013 season.
Before his coaching days, Barnaby played collegiate ball in the MASCAC conference for Worcester State under Dr. Dirk Baker, the all-time wins leader in the history of Worcester State. Barnaby was a part of the 2005 MASCAC championship team for the Lancers that made a run at the College World Series before eventually losing in the regions semi-final game.Add that to his experience as an assistant at UMass Lowell and head coach of the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs of the Future’s Collegiate Baseball League in 2014 and Barnaby is confident to steer the ship for Fitchburg State baseball in the upcoming season.
Throughout many experiences playing and coaching baseball, Barnaby remained a student of the game, learning new details during his time as a Division 3 ballplayer all the way to pinnacle of his baseball career as assistant coach at Division 1 UMass Lowell this past season.
“Worcester taught me what a Division 3 baseball player is, but my experience at UMass Lowell showed me how to run a high-level program,” said Barnaby. “Between the two experiences it made me comfortable to accept this position as head coach of Fitchburg State.”
During his time with the Falcon baseball team in 2013, Barnaby was able to coach and get to know the now senior class of ball players when they were just freshmen at the school. “Now they’re the savvy veterans, they’re the ones that can teach the wide-eyed freshmen,” said Barnaby. “[Returning players] are familiar with me and my expectations.”
Another familiar face for returning players will be Assistant Coach Randy Ortiz. Ortiz was captain during his senior season back in 2013 and teammate for some of the older members of this year’s team, playing at Fitchburg State during Barnaby’s tenure as assistant coach. Ortiz was a key contributor batting for the Falcon’s batting .343 while playing in 33 games and helping his team reach the MASCAC playoffs before being eliminated by Salem State.
Ortiz will be returning to Fitchburg State as an assistant coach after serving the same role at Division 2 Assumption College last season. “I’m lucky I was able to get him [Ortiz] to join me,” said Barnaby. “He’s a tremendous asset because he was a student here and his baseball knowledge is through the roof.”
Barnaby has high hopes for the 2015-2016 Fitchburg State baseball season and the boys of spring have pleased their new skipper early on in the fall season. “Everything this team has done has been through the roof; we have 39 leaders on this team,” exclaimed Barnaby.
The 2016 season will begin on March 11 when the team will travel to Florida, with a schedule that could include five double headers. Coach Barnaby is optimistic that his team can improve upon their 12-19 (5-9 MASCAC) record from a season ago, saying “our goal is to get better every day, team chemistry and work ethic are incredible, if we can stay healthy then we’ll be all right.”