The SIUE baseball team is eligible for postseason tournaments starting this season and added a new coach to help transition to the new level of competition.
Former St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen has taken on the role of the Cougars’ pitching coach on a volunteer basis.
Head Coach Tony Stoecklin said it was former Head Coach Gary “Bo” Collins who first approached Isringhausen.
“[Collins] asked [Isringhausen] if he had some interest, and he said he did,” Stoecklin said. “After that, Jason and I met and talked a little bit. He wanted to be a part of what we’re doing here.”
Isringhausen is from Brighton, went to Southwestern High School in Piasa and attended Lewis and Clark Community College. He currently lives in the Edwardsville area.
Isringhausen has pitched in the majors since 1995. In that time, the two-time all star has earned 300 saves, putting him third among active saves leaders. He had 217 saves while in St. Louis, the most in Cardinals history.
Stoecklin said Isringhausen knows baseball, but more importantly he knows how to teach.
“That’s the most important thing,” Stoecklin said. “He’s imparting a lot of knowledge on [the players].”
Senior pitcher Tony Schaeffer, who will be the closer for the Cougars, said even non-pitchers have learned from Isringhausen.
“He knows the game all around, not just pitching,” Schaeffer said. “He’s mostly been working with the pitchers though, getting to know their tendencies since he hasn’t been around for very long.”
Junior pitcher Travis Felax said having Isringhausen has been a big help.
“Somebody with his experience and his knowledge of the game has really helped our staff excel,” Felax said.
According to Stoecklin, Isringhausen has been outstanding with the team so far.
“He’s really patient with the guys,” Stoecklin said. “I don’t think some of those guys realize what kind of expertise that he brings to the table. They’re getting it from the top, the high-end type of knowledge to succeed.”
Schaeffer said having Isringhausen around the team has been a great step up.
“I’ve been a fan of his, especially being a Cardinals fan,” Schaeffer said. “It’s definitely good to know you have somebody to ask a question about any situation.”
Felax said Isringhausen has worked closely with all of the pitchers.
“He stands in and watches every single one of our bullpen sessions,” Felax said.
The main thing Isringhausen has done for the Cougars, Stoecklin said, is improve their confidence.
“When you have somebody that’s played at the highest level for 15 plus seasons, and he tells you that your stuff’s good enough to win at the level you’re at, meaning college baseball,” Stoecklin said, “that should give you confidence. I’ve noticed that with a lot of our pitchers.”
Schaeffer said Isringhausen has also helped the pitchers with their mechanics.
According to Felax, Isringhausen is very good at figuring out what each pitcher needs to work on.
“It just depends on the guy and what they need help with,” Felax said.
SIUE played its first series of the season last weekend at Lipscomb, and Isringhuasen traveled with the team. However, Stoecklin said Isringhausen probably will not be with the team every weekend.
In fact, he may not be with the team for the whole season. Isringhausen has not retired from baseball and is still looking to sign a contract with a major league team.
Stoecklin said he has not thought far enough ahead to have a plan for if that happens.
“I’m sure at that point, I’ll probably slide back into being a pitching coach and the head coach,” Stoecklin said.
Felax said he hopes Isringhausen can stay with the team for the entire season.
“That will lead to some big improvement in our staff,” Felax said, “and lead to a lot of wins this year.”