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Scott Stricklin told Kent's business and community leaders Thursday their investment in the city's downtown has become a recruiting tool for his team.
The Kent State University baseball coach, who spoke to the crowd of 70 at the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce's lunch at the Water Street Tavern, said he used to avoid showing potential recruits around the city's downtown before the ongoing $110 million redevelopment project.
"(Downtown) wasn't necessarily a place you wanted to try to sell," Stricklin said. "What's gone on here in the last three years, and what's going on right now, is just simply amazing. Now that's the first thing that we do -- we go through downtown Kent."
Stricklin, who graduated from KSU with a degree in marketing in 1995, said he's proud to see university and city officials collaborating with business leaders to bring life into the downtown.
"My family and I used to go to Hudson (in Summit County) for Sunday dinners," he said. "We don't do that anymore. We come to Kent to spend our time and spend our money."
Stricklin also asked the community to come out and support the team when it begins playing in Kent, starting with the home opener at Schoonover Stadium Wednesday against the University of Pittsburgh.
The Golden Flashes have played 14 road games so far this season, winning just four. Stricklin outlined some factors that may have contributed to the team's slow start, which follows a trip to the College World Series last season.
"We've played 11 games of those 14 against teams that are ranked in the (USA Today) Top-25 in the country, and all of those games are on the road," he said.
Stricklin said the team has been able to practice outside in Kent three times this season because of the weather.
Adding to the team's early season woes, first baseman George Roberts, who Stricklin described as the team's best player, broke his wrist during his second at-bat of the season and has not played in a game since the injury.
Stricklin said the team's success last year also alerted teams across the nation that Kent State was not a team to take lightly. He said one reason his team was so successful at upsetting high-ranked teams in years past was that many players outside of the Midwest had never heard of the Golden Flashes.
"Now everybody knows who we are," he said. "Every single team that we play watched us on TV last year, and they were envious of our team. They wanted to be where we were."
Stricklin said he hoped the team learned lessons in the tough losses to out-of-conference opponents it can use once Mid-American Conference play starts March 22 at Northern Illinois.
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