James Leverton and Roger Kieschnick have been playing baseball together since high school, and are now bringing their experiences to Waco as a part of Mitch Thompson’s staff at McLennan Community College.
Thompson and current MCC assistant coach, Chris Berry remember squaring off against Kieschnick and Leverton when they played for Texas Tech in the mid 2000’s. Thompson tried to recruit Kieschnick to Baylor, but when Roger went West to Tech and played outfield, something Thompson would live to regret, for those years.
“I remember Roger hitting homerun after homerun against us, and you know I hated him as a player, and I was kicking myself because he was coming out as a second baseman and I didn’t think he could play second base.
Leverton a pitcher and a first baseman led the Red Raiders in ERA in his final season in West Texas, but his current coach remembers Leverton and company pulling one over on him, in the field.
“I remember James as a player as well, coming out of high school and then at first base at Texas Tech,” he said. “They ran a dad-gum hidden ball trick on us one time and I asked him I said what are you trying to, get me fired?”
While Leverton and Kieschnick tortured Thompson at times in their college days, they have since gone to play professional baseball, and now bring that wealth of knowledge to the MCC staff everyday.
“We can help get our players to the next level,” Thompson said. “Roger and James with their professional experience, they flat know what a professional prospect looks like, they know what the bodies do.”
Fellow assistant Chris Berry has coached college baseball at the highest levels and he loves the chemistry this staff has under Thompson.
“You’ve got four guys who the foundation and the philosophy is very similar, where you have different ways of explaining the same route,” he said.”
Kieschnick enjoys getting to hang out and talk baseball with his friend, but also takes the lessons he learns from his fellow coaches to heart.
“I’m really lucky,” he said. “I’m getting to coach with one of my best friends, James Leverton over here. I’ve known him since High School, and then being with Coach Thompson and Coach Berry who help me learn as a coach.”
Leverton said he and Kieschnick have been coaching together long before they got to MCC.
“We talked about coaching together when we were in high school, making lineups with our own team and stuff,” he said. “Now that we’re really getting to do that at the level and the school we’re doing it, is just the Cherry on top.”
Coach Thompson said he feels like he has the best assistants in America, and much like the 65 players Thompson has sent to the next level, he doesn’t expect his coaches to stay around too long.
“I’m going to really enjoy watching those guys careers continue to grow as they continue to move, and move up the ladder and get to the next job, wherever that may be,” he said. They’re too good for us to keep them here I can promise you that.”
Thomspon, Berry, Kieschnick and Leverton will open their season at Bosque River Ballpark, on Friday, with a double-header beginning at noon.