ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – UTPB Athletics introduced its new head baseball coach, Gabe Grinder, on Thursday.
Grinder comes to the Permian Basin from the University of Ottawa (KS) where he spent four years. In those four years, Grinder managed to turn Braves baseball into a winning program, even winning his first Kansas Collegiate Athletics Conference title.
Ottawa is a private university that participates in the NAIA. The move to UTPB includes a jump into the NCAA for Grinder, a challenge he says he’s ready for.
Grinder inherits a Falcon baseball program that has struggled to maintain success over the past decade. His last winning season was in 2015, and the Falcons are coming off a 12-37 (.246) season.
“It reminds me of what I took charge of in Ottawa and it’s a chance to do it at a higher level. I’m a guy who likes a challenge, so it was really exciting to get the chance to jump on it,” Grinder said.
UTPB pitchers threw an 11.27 ERA in the 2022 campaign. Grinder, who describes himself as a pitcher, says he will largely focus on the mound.
“I think when you see an 11.5-year-old MPM, that’s the first thing. How are you going to be more competitive? Grinder said. “This is the first pitching team I’ve been around that we have more walks than strikeouts, so how do you compete inside the strike zone?”
Grinder brings with him some coaches and players, but especially the winning culture he helped establish in Ottawa. It’s one of the main reasons athletic director Todd Dooley called Grinder.
“Gabe out of the gate was someone we picked and we thought he would be a really good fit for us here in Odessa,” Dooley said.