On March 15, 2022, Winona State University Baseball Head Coach Kyle Poock announced that at the end of this season he will be retiring after being head coach since 2003. Poock has created a culture within Winona State baseball that most coaches strive for, with the team being more of a family than just a four-year team.
“We’re basically like a big family that just goes out and plays baseball,” First year Joshua Hawksford said.
The Winona State baseball team’s season can go anywhere from here, but one thing is for sure: the team’s favorite part of the game is getting to play together and that is a beautiful thing to see from a collegiate team.
Coach Poock has led the team to second in the nation in 2011, had six warriors earn All-American honors and 15 postseason appearances that included 20 or more wins.
“Baseball wise [my biggest accomplishment] is our 2011 team, which we finished second in the nation. That’s probably the pinnacle when it comes to baseball per se,” Poock said. “But I think a lot of the other stuff. I feel very confident and proud of what I accomplished.”
Among these past accomplishments includes 478 wins in his total career as he approaches 500, his boys hope by the end of the season.
“My goal for the team is to get no less than 26 wins to get KP his 500th win of his career,” Fourth year Derek Baumgartner said. “That would be a cool mark to get with him.”
The older boys were here when Poock hit 450 wins a few years back meaning that they would have hit two milestones with coach in the time they’ve been here.
The team has shown their ability to excel not only on the field, but academically as well under KP with a 3.21 GPA this past fall and nominations for academic awards seven years in a row. This includes ten former Warriors who have earned either Academic All-American or Academic All-Region in his time as a head coach.
“When we’re recruiting kids, we tell their parents your son [is] coming here to get an education, they’re going to get a great experience with baseball, we’re going to play the best competition we can play,” Poock said. “And we’re going to see how things shake out on the field.”
To back up for more of a history on Winona’s baseball coach and program, Poock is from Wittenburg, Wis. and grew up watching his dad coach, the late Ed Poock.
Ed Poock was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001 and was the Winona State Baseball assistant coach in 1969, where KP served as a bat boy under him.
“And in the summer, I’d follow [him] to the baseball field and everywhere. I just knew along the way that that’s what I wanted to do I wanted to coach ball,” Poock said.
“The biggest thing is just walking around in our hometown everyone going, ‘Hey Coach, Hey Coach’
to him all time. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. So that’s probably one of the main reasons [I coach].”
With such an influential example like his father, it is no wonder Poock became a successful women’s basketball coach at the start of his career, finishing strong as a seasoned and respected baseball coach.
Poock’s influence on Winona State University is known by all and he will be missed by Winona State’s baseball program especially.
The Warriors started conference play against St. Cloud State University last Thursday and Friday where they split 7-2 in the first game and 3-1 in the second game.
Pitching for the first game was Nicolas Herold followed by Dillon Whittaker for game two and Cameron Kramer for game three.
In game one the Warriors were able to sneak a 4-3 win with runs from Nick Herbst, Baumgartner, Carter Brinkman and Mason Trocke.
Game two came with a struggle as the team fell 7-1 with the only run being from Brinkman’s homerun in the bottom of the ninth.
To end the series on Monday after a split day before, the team lost 14-1 with a run from first year Kyle Yu. The Warriors stay home for the rest of the week before leaving for University of Mary this weekend for a series of three games.
The team currently sits 4-12 overall this season with 2-3 in NSIC games.
As for the rest of the season, the Warriors face Southwest Minnesota State University on March 30 at home at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. for their third match up in conference play.