Delta State picked a proven winner with Mike Kinnison

By JASON PATTERSON,

I’ve enjoyed many fun experiences during my career as a journalist, but none top the week I spent covering Delta State University’s baseball team in the 2004 Division II College World Series in Montgomery, Ala.

As I spent a week watching great baseball games and writing game stories from my hotel room, I wondered how I got lucky enough to actually be getting paid to do this.

It got even better when Delta State won the national title.

Delta State was where I went to college, and my father played baseball at DSU for the legendary coach Boo Ferriss. I was also proud of the fact that the team was coached by a fellow Yazoo County native, Mike Kinnison.

Kinnison runs one of the best Division II baseball programs in the country, and it was exciting to be there in person to see his team achieve the highest level of success.

My favorite moment was when Kinnison climbed into the stands and presented the trophy to Coach Ferriss, who continued to be the program’s strongest supporter after retiring.

Kinnison, who chalked up his 900th in February, has made six College World Series appearances, earned 11 Gulf South Conference Western Division titles, seven conference titles and six NCAA South Central Regional championships. He has been named the Division II National Coach of the Year and was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

As a college player, Benton native was a standout shortstop from 1977-1978. Kinnison garnered ABCA Second Team All-American honors during the 1978 season. In that same year, he batted .343 with 25 doubles and 56 RBIs in leading the Statesmen to a second-place finish at the NCAA College World Series.

Before that he helped lead Benton Academy to a state title in baseball.

In short, the guy is a winner.

DSU named Kinnison as the university’s new athletic director this week. He was an obvious choice with his history of success. The only reason I was surprised by his selection was that I was not aware that he had any interest in the job. He will also continue serving as the head baseball coach.

Delta State has been fortunate that Kinnison has chosen to continue his career at the university where he got his start. He certainly has had many opportunities available to him with his track record for success, but he is right where he wants to be.

I look forward to seeing DSU build on its tradition of athletic excellence under Kinnison’s leadership.