WALLA WALLA - Sean Kinney has been named interim head coach of the Whitman College baseball program. Kinney, who had served as an assistant coach at Whitman since his graduation from the school in 2005, replaces Jared Holowaty, who resigned earlier this month.
Kinney, 29, an all-Northwest Conference center fielder during his playing days at Whitman, is also starting his third summer as head coach of the Bend Elks, a member of the West Coast League.
The WCL, which includes the Walla Walla Sweets, is a nine-team league that provides summer wood-bat playing opportunities for some of the top college players in the country.
"This opportunity to be the head coach at Whitman is obviously a dream come true for me," Kinney said. "As someone who played for Whitman, I can say that no one cares more about this program and its student athletes than I do.
"I've started putting together a coaching staff, and our first priority is to have a strong Whitman presence this summer and fall at several high school tournaments and camps on the West Coast. It's critical to the future success of our program to continue with the greater emphasis Whitman has placed on recruiting over the past few years.
"Once the school year begins in September, we will do everything we can to help our student athletes as they work to achieve their potential, both on the diamond and in the classroom."
Dean Snider, director of athletics at Whitman, plans to conduct a national search over the next year before filling the head baseball coaching position on a more permanent basis. Kinney will be a candidate for the permanent position, Snider said.
"Sean has been one of the most valued members of our department for as long as I've been the athletic director," Snider said. "Sean is a young man with a tremendous depth of character and talent. He is well respected by players on the team and other coaches throughout the greater baseball community. I could not be more pleased that Sean has agreed to take on this new role."
Kinney compiled a 67-50 record over the past two summers as head coach of the Bend Elks. Both of his teams made the WCL playoffs and his 2010 squad played for the league title.
Kinney also posted two winning seasons as head coach of the Bend Bucks, a second summer team sponsored by the Bend Baseball Club. He led the Bucks (younger players) to a combined 42-34 record in 2008 and 2007. His 2008 Bucks were 14-7 in league play, finishing second.
Kinney's resume also has two summers as an assistant coach in Bend.
Kinney played the role of Lou Gehrig's Iron Horse at Whitman, taking the field in every game over four seasons while starting all but one game. He collected 197 career hits while posting a .360 batting average. He led Whitman in hits and runs scored in each of his four seasons, and he topped the team three times in stolen bases, walks and on-base percentage.