Monday, September 27, 2010

Bobcats tap new manager

Medley returns to Marion to head 2011 team

As the closer for the Bobcats in their inaugural season, Kyle Medley drove his former skipper to nervously gnaw is thumb to the quick. When the 2011 season starts for the Bobcats, Medley will be getting a taste of his own medicine, reversing those roles.

Earlier this week, General Manager Gordon Guess announced that Medley will be replacing Steve Fowler as manager and head coach of the Marion squad. The 23-year-old Kentucky native will follow the man who coached him in the Bobcats' debut season, 2008, and the only manager the team had known through its first three years. Fowler resigned his position in August after leading the Bobcats to the KIT League postseason and their best record since joining the league.

As part of legacy that was started under Fowler, Medley is happy to be headed back to Guess Field.

"The reason I want to coach for the Marion Bobcats is because I am familiar with their program and see the type of potential that community has to rally around their own baseball program," he said. "The community there was great when I played."

Next year will be Medley's first year of managing a summer collegiate league team, but not his first foray into coaching. In fact, the 2009 graduate of Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., is currently serving as the fall baseball season coach at John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Ky. And he previously served as varsity pitching coach at his alma mater, Washington County High School in Springfield, Ky., overseeing the development of the team's throwers.

Guess excited about putting Medley back in the dugout as manager, despite being half the age that Fowler was when he began recruiting for the Bobcats in early 2008.

"He knows the ropes. He's been around," Guess said. "He'll bring a spark and rejuvenation we need."

In his only season on the mound for the Bobcats, Medley recorded two wins, a team-record eight saves and posted a 0.40 earned run average, the lowest of any pitcher in the KIT League to throw over 15 innings in 2008. In fact, he allowed only one earned run and struck out 35 in 22.2 innings.

As a player at Belhaven, Medley is the all-time leader in saves with 23 and ranked fifth and fourth in NAIA Division I saves in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Earlier this year, he signed a professional contract with the Shreveport-Bossier City (La.) Captains of the American Association.

But his unorthodoxed, side-arm delivery kept Fowler on needles and pins on the steps of the dugout three summers ago. Medley's 31 base runners allowed in just over 22 innings of work and a propensity to push batters to deep counts kept Fowler's thumb one big sore for the two months of the season.

However, that drama of the late innings with Medley on the hill is simply one of the team's highlights from its first three season, Guess said. It's time to move ahead, and he's found the right guy to replace Fowler, he added.

"He's smart. And Fowler likes him for the job."

Medley plans to be in Marion next week to visit with sponsors of the team and to make himself known around the community. Guess said his excitement for the team and love of America's pastime should be evident to those who speak with him.

"Not too many people get the chance to put on stirrups and a jersey and make a living at what they want to do in life," Medley said. "It's simply impossible to walk away from something that means so much to you."

Medley brings with him David Gilbert as an assistant coach. Gilbert, 25, was a teammate of Medley's at Belhaven and brings with him his own extensive baseball resume. He holds Belhaven's all-time records for runs, triples and walks, and is in the top three in four other statistical categories.