April 18- Dylan Pfingst
William Peace University Pitching Coach
On today’s edition of Under the Gun, we are joined at Dirtbags Baseball with Dylan Pfingst, who is an assistant coach with William Peace University in Raleigh, NC.
Now in your 3rd year with the baseball program at William Peace University, can you give us where some of your other stops have been in your coaching journey and how those stops have been a part of your developing your coaching approach?
First, I am very thankful that I have been able to be a part of William Peace University these last three years, there are great people here that are truly invested in the direction of athletics. My first ever coaching opportunity was helping out when my brother was 8 years old. He played on a travel team that was just getting started, and I loved every minute of it. Right then, I knew that I wanted to coach when my playing career was exhausted. I have had stops at literally all levels, beginning with 8u, high school at my alma mater West Forsyth HS, two stints in the Coastal Plains League, and Rockingham Community College. Each level has taught me something different, but overall, every level reminds me that baseball is such a fun community to be a part of.
As a former pitcher yourself, you now find yourself in the role of coaching a staff at the collegiate level. In what ways are you able to take some of your own experiences to lead players who compete on the mound and beyond?
I didn’t throw very hard when I was in college, so I had to rely on my secondary pitches more than anything. Even though I was not the hardest throwing guy out there, I had trust in myself, and told myself that no one was going to compete as hard as me. A good friend of mine told me one day before he went to law school, that someone may end up being a better lawyer than him, but no one was going to work harder every day to be the best lawyer he could be. There are many times in baseball, and in life that you can just roll over, but if you believe no one is going to work harder, or compete harder than you, then you will find yourself in a positive place.
Staying on the topic of pitching, what is your overall pitching philosophy and what are some critical elements you think pitchers must prioritize as they look to perform?
Our main focus as soon as our warm-up pitches are done, is setting the tone with the first pitch we throw. If we can get ahead in the count, and set the tone from the first pitch, we have a better opportunity to get our lead off hitter out. We always talk about trusting your stuff, and that comes from the time that a catcher throws a sign down. Mentally, we should never believe that the pitch called is not the best pitch for that situation, because you should trust the fact that you are going to execute it. We like this quote from Sandy Koufax, “I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball, and started trying to make them hit it.”. We also want to make sure that once we get two outs, we challenge ourselves to get that third out as quick as possible, so our guys can come in and hit quickly.
In coaching at William Peace University, share with us what it’s like to help lead a D3 program like the Pacers in the always competitive USA South Conference?
It is not easy- this conference is one of the best in the country. Check D3Baseball.com, or Perfect Game and you will see 3-4 teams consistently in the Top 25. Every time you check the roster of your opponent, you see guys from all over the country that want to come play for programs in this region at the Division III level. Every year, you see pre-season, mid-season, and end of season All Americans that are scattered throughout teams from the USA South. I can say this though, there are not many programs that have what WPU has. We are thankful that we have the facilities we do, on and off campus, to be able to provide a great experience for our players. We have a dedicated coaching staff, as well as a great administration that continues to move in the right direction, and an awesome campus in the middle of Downtown Raleigh. It is tough to beat it!
As youth programs are looking to provide their players with advantages to aid their development, often in hopes of playing at a next level, what are some ways you would like to see these youth organizations focus their efforts?
Something that we see as coaches when we are out recruiting, is a lack of seeing “team guys”. Many teams just get together on the weekends to play, rather than get to know each other during the week. First hand, I know that what separates the Dirtbags from other organizations is that guys from all teams work out together, and support each other- and that is great to see that the Dirtbags staff pushes that. Too many organizations are solely focused on getting their players to college programs that they do not put enough into their development so that they can find them the RIGHT college program.
Coach Pfingst, we at Dirtbags Baseball want to thank you for spending time with us and give us a chance to share with everyone more about you and your views on the game. Best of luck to you and the Pacers at the 2019 continues!