Coach Jad Prachniak reflects on the Golden Ram’s quest for the national title
Did you play college ball? Yes. I played at the University of Rhode Island.
What did you do after your time as a player? Well, it took me five years to graduate. So, in 2005 I helped out with the team as much as I could as a student assistant.
And after that? My coach at Rhode Island got an offer to coach at William and Mary, and he brought me along with him. I was there for six years.
What was your role at William and Mary? I started as the number two assistant and held that role for my first three years there. I then became the number one assistant, and while I was the pitching coach the whole time, being the number one assistant also meant that I became the recruiting coordinator.
So you’re comfortable with recruiting? Yeah. Especially at the major schools, much of the recruiting falls to the assistant coaches.
West Chester has had a good deal of success over the past decade. Was there added pressure coming into a program like that? Coming into a winning program means that it’s obvious that you can win and that the school is really behind you and wants to win. That makes the job all the more enticing, but you also know the standard is high.
While it’s true there’s a history of winning here, 2011 didn’t really live up to those expectations. Did you have to change a lot coming in? I didn’t go out of my way to change things, and I wasn’t here under the previous coach to know if I’ve made significant changes. What I inherited was a lineup of really good players who were also really good kids, so it was a great reception and everyone was open-minded about implementing what I wanted to do.
What were some of the highlights along your road to the World Series? Getting through the playoffs at the PSAC tournament was a major accomplishment for us as a team. We lost our second game to Kutztown. It was a double elimination tournament, so we had to win out after that game. We ended up winning back-to-back doubleheaders to win that tournament – four nine-inning games in two days. We didn’t lose again the rest of the season.
I imagine that was the moment when you all thought, “Hey. We can do this.” I guess it was. With our regular season record we probably would have gotten an at-large bid anyway, but there was something to pulling through that tournament as a team. It was a great experience and brought with it a new level of confidence.
Did the environment at the World Series require a lot of changes on your part to keep the guys playing the way they had been all season? We had five guys on the team who’d been to the World Series before, in 2009, and it was the same venue this year as it was then. I think having those guys brought a certain calmness to the team. Their leadership was a driving force behind the way the rest of the team played throughout the tournament.
What was your mentality in that tournament? I wanted the guys to enjoy it and embrace it. I won’t call them distractions, but there was a lot going on at the World Series outside of baseball. But, while I wanted them to enjoy it, at game time we had to make sure that the team’s focus was between the lines. We needed to focus on what brought us there.
Are there any factors you could identify that you think helped WCU come out on top? We had a senior class that led by example. Our younger guys fed off of that, and I have confidence they will be leaders in the future.
What will you take with you from this victory? It was all about seeing how happy the guys were. It’s happiness in its purest form. You see the recordings and the photos, and you know that they’ll have that moment forever.