When Johnathan Mills learned about the managerial opening with the Hoots, he knew it was one he couldn’t pass up. Mills has a background in Play9 events and was talking to Matt Stembridge about turfing the field at his school when the conversation about an open position with the Hoots came up.
“I love the ballpark,” said Mills. “It’s a nice community. You see what you can play in and you see what it can be. There’s a unique vibe here that can be something special.”
The Florida-native just completed his first season as head coach at East Central College, located in Union, Missouri, where the Eagles compiled a 21-26 record. The season included a NJCAA Region 16 Title, and, overall, was a successful one for Mills as he tries to rebuild the program after nearly two decades without baseball. The Eagles did not see a field before their first series, but Mills says there were a lot of people in St. Louis who were willing to help and a lot of people wanted to see them succeed.
Mills says the community of O’Fallon is an important one and is one he’s excited to represent both on the field and off the field.
“The city of O’Fallon, and Carshield Field … you want to make sure our guys play it (the game) the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Mills. “There’s more to this game than what happens on the field.”
The roster this season is one that can “definitely swing it and pick it,” according to Mills. The first week of the season he, and the rest of the coaching staff, will have the stat line as well as the preliminary eye test to see what talent is on the squad. Mills says the infield is going to be pretty set, but did mention that Noah Fisher and Even Albrecht could move around.
“They (Fisher and Albrecht) can realistically play third or short, as well as second,” Mills said, “No matter what lineup you put out on the infield you’re going to be good.” When it comes to the outfield, a lot of guys will be getting at-bats according to Mills.
The pitching side of things will take a little more time to figure out. “We’ll be heavy with guys who haven’t thrown a lot, and they’ve got a lot of opportunities to get a lot of innings,” Mills said.
The Hoots are bringing in some young arms this season, but arms with plenty of upside. Mills wants to win this season, and thinks he has a deep and talented group that will win some games at CarShield Field.
“Above all, make sure guys are indoctrinated into the fabric of what we want to do, which is to represent O’Fallon well,” Mills said. “We still want to win and put a good product on the field.”
When it comes to the style of managing, Mills says the situation of the game will dictate what the Hoots do this season. “If something makes sense, to do it, we’ve got 1-9 (in the offense), I think everybody in the offense on any given day can execute anything,” Mills said. “I want to run and take advantage of stuff if we can.”
The O’Fallon Hoots have 12 more home dates in the month of June! Be sure to go to ofallonhoots.com to get tickets for an exciting summer of baseball at CarShield Field.