SAINT LEO, Fla. – Former University of South Florida pitcher Keith Strickland has officially joined Russ McNickle's Saint Leo Baseball staff as he will oversee the Lions' pitchers.

Elevated from his previous volunteer role within the program, Strickland has a long and developed history with Coach McNickle and Saint Leo University.  After graduating from high school, he spent five years as a pitcher for the University of South Florida where he pitched under McNickle's guise for two seasons. 

“I am excited about having Keith more involved on a day to day basis,” said McNickle.  “His ability to communicate, recruit, evaluate and his previous development of young pitchers will only enhance the growth of our program but more importantly our pitching staff.”

Strickland, a left-handed hurler, finished his career at USF where he notched 67 relief appearances which ranks him eighth all-time in school history.  During his five-year stint with the Bulls, the Brooklyn, NY native compiled a 7-2 overall record and was a team captain his senior year.

Leaving college in 2002, Strickland would spend the next four years playing in the minor leagues before retiring from baseball in 2005 as a member of the Ohio Valley Redcoats in the Frontier League.

Intermixed in his minor league career, Strickland was trying on his coaching hat for the first time as he was named to the coaching staff at Tampa Catholic High School under the Crusaders' Head Coach Tom Reidy, who also played for Russ McNickle during his career.  During his four-year stint on the TC staff, Strickland helped send nine pitchers into the college ranks and saw one pitcher get drafted.

His other tie to Saint Leo is through his younger brother, Ryan, who played for SLU in 2002-03.

Entering his third season on the Saint Leo Baseball coaching staff, Lee Parks has been elevated to the top assistant position for McNickle heading into the 2010-11 season.

“I am happy to promote Lee to the full time position,” said McNickle of Park’s promotion.  “His drive and the initiative that he has shown the last two years has not gone unnoticed.  His personal development as a young coach has carried over to our players and the quality of his work has been outstanding.”

A four-year letterwinner at Mississippi State, the switch-hitting catcher helped lead the Bulldogs to a College World Series berth in 1998 and a Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship in 2001.

After finishing his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State in 2002, Parks went on to receive his MBA while working as a graduate assistant at MSU.  After graduate school he served as assistant general manager for the Outer Banks Daredevils of the Coastal Plain League.

Parks will oversee the Saint Leo hitters and catchers.

As Coach McNickle finalized his 2010-11 staff he finished by saying, “As the baseball program continues striving for excellence, I am pleased to surround our players and the program with these two quality coaches.”

After a brief fall season, Saint Leo Baseball will get the championship portion of their year underway in February of 2011.