Friday, July 25, 2014
Wando and West Ashley’s rivalry developed a new chapter this week as Warriors assistant Tyson Azevedo signed on as the Wildcats’ new head baseball coach.
Azevedo spent eight years with Wando, most recently as the Warriors’ pitching coach. He takes over for his longtime friend Mitch Miggenburg, who stepped down as Wildcats head coach earlier this week.
“It was extremely hard to leave Wando, but opportunities like this don’t come around very often,” Azevedo said. “My heart is a little broken leaving a family of guys at Wando, but I think it was time for me to step out and try to excel and find my own niche out here.”
Azevedo graduated from Stall High School in 2000. He pitched for four years at Newberry College and spent two years coaching baseball and football at Newberry High School before joining Wando in 2006.
“I always knew it was just a matter of time before he got his opportunity,” Wando head coach Dirk Thomas said. “He’s put the time in. He has the experience, background and knowledge of baseball to be a really good coach. I’m really proud.”
Wando won 18 games this season with a staff that boasted six pitchers with an ERA of 3.0 or lower and at least 15 innings of work. Azevedo’s two main starters, Jeff Gottesman and Mark Evans combined to go 10-2 this season. Gottesman finished the season with a .646 ERA and 44 strikeouts, while Evans put together a 1.09 ERA with 47 strikeouts.
“The pieces are definitely in place for Wando to keep improving,” Azevedo said. “There are probably six or seven guys who are capable of going Division I. That’s unheard of.”
Azevedo takes over a program that won 24 games, played for the Class AAAA Lower State title and finished the season ranked No. 3 in the state. West Ashley also happened to eliminate Wando in the Lower State semifinals at Warrior Field.
“Coach Miggenburg has done wonders at West Ashley,” Azevedo said. “He’s instilled a type of work ethic that truly has the school and community believing in winning. We have a good group of kids coming back and I’m excited to build on what he’s done.”
Wando volunteer assistant Aaron Nielsen is likely to assume pitching coach duties as Thomas says the Warriors won’t rush to replace Azevedo. Nielsen joined the Warriors staff last season after spending time with Cal-State Fullerton, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University as a special assistant developer.
Azevedo says it’ll be “really weird” to return to the place he’s called home for almost a decade as a visitor next season. But with two quality teams vying for the top spot in AAAA Region VII and a healthy rivalry behind the two, Azevedo says he’s excited about the future for both programs.
“There will be some fireworks,” he said. “Two really good teams that want to win now. I look forward to it. It’ll be fun. I’m really good friends with Dirk and all the assistants there. I truly want them to win every game, except when they play us.”