by Michael Coker | Black College Nines
The Benedict College baseball program has put up staggering stolen base numbers over the past ten years under Head Coach Selwyn Young. In 2018, the Tigers stole their 2,000th base during coach’s ninth season. He builds his teams to go station to station in a heartbeat, which has resulted in Benedict’s leading the NCAA in stolen bases for the ten years under Young’s helm.
Young prepares his student-athletes to study opposing pitcher’s techniques before and during games plus his scouting reports focus on a pitchers delivery that allows his tough-minded teams to run more often.
Having more men on base and stealing efficiently allows his teams to have more runners in scoring position which has allowed Benedict to score more runs leading the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) in seven of the ten years he has been with the Tigers.
All of the players want to run and each year there is a relentless pursuit to do better than the previous year. Young pushes base stealing constantly, not only in fall ball but throughout the season.
Stealing bases has led Benedict to some hefty conference records in the SIAC in team batting average, earned run average, home runs, stolen bases and scoring
Benedict also was crowned the NCAA national scoring champion, averaging 9.8 runs per game. This is the third time under Young’s tenure Benedict has led the nation in scoring, previously winning in 2011 (8.9 runs per game) and 2013 (10.1 runs per game) His players were recognized for several conference, regional and national awards.
In 2014, the Tigers stole 207 bases and led the NCAA in stolen bases and stolen bases per game for the sixth consecutive year.
During the 2013 season, the Tigers set six NCAA records, and have set 12 total NCAA records under Young. The Tigers stole an NCAA record 335 bases in 2013 and became the only team in NCAA Division II history to steal more than 300 bases, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three years after stealing 316 in 2010.
In 2013, Benedict led the NCAA in stolen bases and stolen bases per game for the fifth consecutive year. Benedict led the NCAA Division II in four national statistical categories: scoring (10.1 runs per game); stolen bases (335); stolen bases per game (8.1); and on-base percentage (.470). Benedict also won the SIAC batting title with a .357 average which was also ranked third in the NCAA.
Under Young’s leadership, the Tigers set the NCAA single game stolen base record with 32 and the single-inning stolen base record with 15. Benedict set NCAA record for stolen bases attempted with 408 as part of the single-game combined teams stolen base record of 50. Benedict also set the NCAA record of 8.1 stolen bases per game in 2013.
Young once stated that “teaching base stealing is one thing but to be successful, we also talk about it from game to game and continue to build on this process. You must have patience it takes time to develop a good base stealer.”
Young, a former Major League player with the Oakland A’s and the Baltimore Orioles, was a former scout for the Cincinnati Reds, and the Seattle Mariners.
Young has 10 former players playing at the Major League level. Including pitcher Matt Garza (Cubs), Dana Eveland (Dodgers), Coco Crisp (A’s), Jason Kubel (Twins), Kevin Frandsen (Phillies), Kevin Millar, Brett Hayes (Marlins), Delwyn Young (Phillies),Chris Petite (Angels) and former Red Sox James Lofton and former MLB World Series champ with the Red Sox and current host of MLB’s Intentional Talk.
Young explains how he prepares his players, the art of base stealing, and why he is successful at it.
“Far as my success as a base stealing coach, that comes from my personal experience as a base stealer myself. We practice working on our leads, our jumps, how many strides it takes before they slide. Our first step is critical, I learned that when I was playing for the Oakland Athletics and the greatest base stealer of all time Ricky Henderson was leading our organization. Ricky preached the first step you need to be at full speed. So we work on that in practice.”
“The kids also need to know where they are on the base path at all times so they can get back safely if the pitcher tries to pick them off. We have 2332 stolen bases in 11 seasons with a 85 percent safe rate. I don’t let them go unless their off the bases far enough to make it.”
“Two summers ago when I was manager for the Plattsburgh Red Birds in the Empire Professional Baseball League, in opening day we stole 10 bases. We led the league that summer in stolen bases and batting average.”
“You must remember that you can’t steal first base. So our on base percentage each year and our team batting average is always at the top in the NCAA.
I preach short quick swings for bat control as opposed to the launch angle that lots of guys are teaching today. Plus we keep our strikeouts down by playing pepper everyday.”
Young played collegiate baseball at Pepperdine University where he earned a full scholarship.
Last year the school honored the 1979 Hall of Fame, College World Series team with a banner on their wall. That team was inducted into Pepperdine’s prestigious Hall of Fame in 1999. The 1979 Waves were the first Pepperdine team to win a berth in the NCAA College World Series. “Unfortunately, I was coaching and could not make the event.”
However, Young’s senior year at Pepperdine, he set the stolen base percentage record with 20 out of 21 steals and led the nation in stolen bases his junior year at Pepperdine.
“So this has been going on for over 40 years. Benedict is just the beneficiary of a long successful campaign by Mr. 2000. That’s what the kids nicknamed me.”
The nickname came about in 2018, after the Tigers stole their 2,000th base during Young’s ninth coaching season. “That license plate was designed by my wife and is on my golf cart.”
Under Young’s tenure, he has build the program to unscaled heights. The Tigers also excel academically.
Currently, the football team received new field turf and the athletic director gave the old turf to Young. “The kids and I put it on the infield, batting cages and in the dugout, I’m currently still working on the finished product. That is the story for this season, no field maintenance.”
According to Young “I’m just grateful that I can give back. I remember when I start building the field June 15, 2009, build it and they will come. What a journey it has been. We’re blessed to have turf.”
The program has had many nicknames because of its base stealing efforts. “Those base-stealing bandits.” Once called “the baseball version of football’s West Coast offense.” and “the fastest show on dirt.” The rest of college baseball is in “dial-up mode,” while Benedict plays the game at “Internet speed.” With the turf according to Young, now it will be “the fastest team on Turf.”
For Coach Young. The art of stealing never changes.
This past season at the school’s employee banquet, Coach Young received a 10 year plaque for his work at Benedict. Young stated “time flies when you’re doing God’s Work.”