Mississippi State has found its new baseball assistant coach: Jake Wells, the head coach at Marion Military Institute in Alabama.
Wells replaces Lane Burroughs, who left earlier this summer to take the head post at Northwestern (La.). State.
Wells, 29, was head coach at Marion the past two years, compiling a record of 28-65-2, including 14-41 in Alabama Community College Conference play. He was also an assistant at Marion from 2007-10, his primary responsibilities being recruiting and working with pitchers.
That record doesn’t look good, but Marion isn’t an easy to place to win. It suffered 10 one-run losses last season. Marion was 37-20 in 2010, so he’s been part of success there.
“He’s got to be extremely creative, and it’s absolutely working your tail off to do it at a place like that,” MSU head coach John Cohen said.
One of Wells’ strong points was recruiting. He brought in current MSU pitcher Luis Pollorena to play for Marion in 2010. The lefty from Texas earned conference player of the year honors with an 11-2 record and 1.77 ERA. He also batted .396.
“Luis in some ways is indicative of the players that he’s producing at Marion. Their work ethic, the fact that (Wells) had to work really hard to get him there,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he waded through “hundreds” of applications for this position before settling on Wells, who played college ball at Montevallo and then spent a couple of years in the minor leagues before catching on at Marion.
With MSU, Wells will work with catchers and hitters and coach first base. He’ll also run MSU’s summer camps. He’s not allowed to be on the road recruiting, but he can of course be an asset when prospects visit campus.
“It’s a special position, it’s a very difficult position, it’s a very challenging position, and it’s important to get the right guy,” Cohen said. “Even though I think there were several candidates that were right there, I feel like Jake was our best candidate for our position.”
There was already familiarity between Wells and MSU because of Pollorena, but also because Wells has worked MSU’s camps in the past as an instructor. Cohen offered him the job over the weekend, and then it was only a matter of paperwork.
Wells said he was surprised to be chosen by Cohen, but he feels he’s earned the chance.
“I think the job we’ve done here at Marion with getting our name out there, these other coaches I think respect what we’ve done here. We play the game the right way, and we do it right. This game pays back people that do it the right way, I believe.”