Fresno State baseball coach Mike Batesole signed a two-year contract extension back in 2019 with an option for a third year, which vested just a few weeks later when the Bulldogs won their first Mountain West Conference championship and advanced to an NCAA regional.
But the upcoming 2022 season won’t be a 56-game farewell tour for the Bulldogs’ coach, who won a College World Series in 2008 and has more than 800 career victories between Fresno State and Cal State Northridge.
Batesole has signed a four-year contract extension that will take him through 2026 and his 24th season at Fresno State, and he gave credit to the late Meredith Jenkins, the Bulldogs’ former deputy director of athletics who passed away in November, for initiating the process and executing the contract.
“Meredith, she was my favorite and she was a big part of getting it done,” Batesole said. “But this is what I do. It’s what’s in my blood. I love it. I don’t know what else I’d do. I don’t know how to do anything else.
“I was 29 as a head coach and a lot of guys don’t get their first chance to be a head coach until they’re 48 or 49. I’m still young. I have a lot left and a long way to go. This is my 27th year, I think, as a head coach where a lot of guys might be in their 10th. I have a long way to go.”
Financial terms of the contract were not immediately available.
The 2022 season would have been the last for Batesole, under his previous contract. But instead of going into the final year with that hanging over the 57-year-old coach, the players and the program, Jenkins last summer started discussions on a contract extension.
After winning a Mountain West title in 2019, the Bulldogs had 2020 canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and in 2021 Fresno State finished fifth in the conference. That, also, is not the way any of the Bulldogs wanted a coach who won seven consecutive conference titles from 2006 to ‘12 with six NCAA Tournament appearances and advanced to three regional title games before winning that national championship to go out.
Bulldogs back to basics in 2022
Fresno State in 2022 will return 21 players with five newcomers. But that experience and a fall season grind on the fundamentals could have the Bulldogs primed for another title run in the spring.
They open the season Feb. 18 against UC Riverside at Pete Beiden Field and Bob Bennett Stadium.
“I really like old teams and we’re old,” Batesole said. “To win, especially in our league with all the different ballparks and situations you get in, veteran players are just necessary if you’re going to get a ring.
“We won the last championship in ‘19 and we didn’t have one in ‘20, obviously, then now in ‘21 we finished fifth. You go from first to fifth and if that doesn’t get under your skin, nothing will. We’ve done some things this fall that are absolutely back to basics. That kind of thing, when you go from first to fifth, you better find a way to get back to basics and get back in a corner and work your way out. It wasn’t just me, the returners, it was in their craw.”