Former Bobcat hired as new hitting coach at Ole Miss

Mike Clement made a college recruiting trip to Atlanta, Ga., early last week, but he had no idea his visit would end with a different colored shirt on his back.

The former Marshalltown Bobcat is now a former Kansas State Wildcat hitting coach after he accepted an offer from University of Mississippi baseball coach Mike Bianco to be the Tigers’ new hitting coach.

“I have had the utmost respect for coach Bianco from afar, and Ole Miss has had a ton of success playing in the very best league in the country,” said Clement, who told the Times-Republican that he interviewed for the job Wednesday and accepted Bianco’s offer Thursday. “It was hard to say goodbye to Kansas State, but I feel very humbled that Ole Miss wants me to be a part of its program.”

Bianco and the Tigers just recently finished up their run in the College World Series. They finished the season 48-21 and fell to top-ranked Virginia in the semifinals in Omaha, Neb.

That success paved the way for previous hitting coach Cliff Godwin to accept the head baseball position at East Carolina. Bianco then reached out to Clement, and after conducting a few other interviews, decided the former Bobcat was the best man for the job.

“Any time someone recognizes the work you have done in the past and wants you to be a part of their program, it’s humbling,” said Clement, who helped guide Kansas State to the Super Regionals back in 2013.

Clement also helped the Wildcats win the Big 12 Conference in 2013. Kansas State, which was one game shy of the College World Series, also ranked in the top 10 of six different hitting categories that year, including the second-best team batting average in the country.

Clement’s 2014 Wildcats also ranked in the top 25 nationally in batting average and scored nearly six runs per game.

“We’re excited and he brings great experience and a wealth of knowledge with him to our program,” said Bianco on the school’s website. “He’s had success everywhere he’s been with some outstanding programs. Mike stood out amongst many great candidates for this position. He will be in charge of our hitters and will assist our recruiting coordinator, Carl Lafferty, on the recruiting trail.”

Prior to his two-year stint at Kansas State, Clement spent three years at Texas A&M and four seasons at UT-San Antonio.

As the hitting instructor at Texas A&M, Clement helped the Aggies to Big 12 championships in 2010 and 2011 and was part of the program’s College World Series squad in 2011.

In his nine years as a Division I assistant coach, Clement has guided 11 All-Americans, 17 Major League Baseball draft picks, 57 all-conference selections and two Big 12 Players of the Year.

Clement, who is the son of former Bobcat baseball coach Brad Clement and the older brother of former MLB catcher Jeff Clement, also played and coached for Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids and Morningside College in Sioux City.

Mike Clement returned to Manhattan, Kan., to “tie up some loose ends” on Friday and then headed back to Oxford, Miss., on Saturday. His entire Sunday was spent recruiting in Atlanta.

Only this time, he donned a new logo and new colors on his shirt.

“I have been in Oxford for all of 16 hours in my entire life,” joked Mike Clement. “I had an unbelievable experience at Kansas State and I have nothing but great things to say about my time there.

“I had some tough conversations with the players and that’s never easy. For the most part, the guys understood that my decision was what was best for me and my family.”