Former Lawrence County pitcher Steve Blevins always hoped Marshall’s baseball program would make some needed changes.

As it turns out recent changes were enough to get Blevins to move closer to home.

Blevins, who has pitched the last two seasons at the University of Cincinnati, will play baseball for the Thundering Herd next season.

“Things weren’t going as great at UC as what we wanted,” Blevins said. “The more I looked into it, the more Marshall seemed like a better situation.”

Prior to last season, Marshall’s coaching staff got an overhaul when Dave Piepenbrink resigned and former North Carolina State assistant Jeff Waggoner was hired to replace him.

One of Waggoner’s first hires was pitching coach Tim Adkins, a native of Wayne (W.Va.) and former coach of the Huntington Hounds.

Adkins has been everywhere Blevins wants to be in his career and the two have worked together each summer since the Lawrence County hurler was 13.

Blevins said that once he heard Adkins was going to be leading the young Marshall pitching staff, he started to think about his future.

“When I first heard that they got the new coaches and Tim Adkins, it made me think because I know what type of pitching coach he is,” Blevins said. “He is one of the best in college baseball. I’ve always took pitching lessons off Tim and where I am today has to do with him.”

Adkins founded Tri-State Baseball Association, Inc. in 1998 to give players in the area a chance to learn from those who had made it to the top level. Blevins was one of those kids that took a liking to Adkins’ style.

“He played pro ball for 13 years so he gets respect from the kids,” Blevins said. “He’s got a great sense of humor and keeps you in a steady mood as well.

While Blevins will already know the coach that he will work with, the transition will also be eased with the right-hander knowing several of his teammates when he walks in.

Blevins’ good friend and Huntington native Adam Yeager is also leaving UC to run with the Thundering Herd while Ashland’s Andrew Hancock and Boyd County’s Tyler Gatrell are already on the Marshall roster. Blevins will join Boyd County’s Justin Moore in this year’s new class.

In addition to familiarity, Blevins said one draw was that Marshall plays in Conference USA, a conference that features perennial college baseball powerhouses Rice and Tulane.

Blevins said the increase in competition level will also increase his exposure to scouts.

“It is definitely a great baseball conference. You want to play against the best,” Blevins said. “The better teams you play, there are going to be more scouts there to see the players. That’s the advantages of playing in that better conference.”

Blevins also hopes he is the key ingredient that gets Marshall over the hump and into the Conference USA tournament this year.

Marshall has missed the postseason in each of its first two seasons as a conference member, but Blevins said the signs of improvement are there.

“Last year, they missed out by one game,” Blevins said. “Making the conference tournament is a starting point for us.”

Blevins finished his two-year stint at Cincinnati with a 14-13 record in 30 starts. In 2006, he was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and a second-team All-Big East selection.

He was a two-time Big East Pitcher of the Week and he broke the school record for freshman wins in a season with nine.

GRANT TRAYLOR can be reached at gtraylor@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2646.

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