Tampa Spartans baseball coach Joe Urso 1 win shy of 1,000 for career

Tampa Spartans baseball coach Joe Urso 1 win shy of 1,000 for career

For the better part of his quarter-century at his alma mater, University of Tampa baseball coach Joe Urso’s day-to-day approach has been defined far more by blue-collar toil than blue-streak tantrums.

“If you ask my guys … when you come to my practices, it’s very low-key, laid-back,” Urso said a few years back. “Here’s our plan for the day, we’re going to get our work in.”

And while that nondescript approach generates few headlines or viral images, it has generated heaps of championships and milestones.

Including the latest one: Urso, 53, is sitting on career victory No. 999.

That one came with Thursday’s 16-7 romp of Savannah State in the NCAA Division II South Regional at the UT Baseball Field. Urso will seek No. 1,000 Friday afternoon when the top-ranked Spartans (44-7) face the winner of Thursday night’s game between Lee and Auburn-Montgomery.

Urso, wrapping up his 24th season, enters Friday’s game with a career mark of 999-286-1. During his tenure, the Spartans have won five national titles and have watched 74 players selected in Major League Baseball’s draft. In 2018, he was ranked 11th on the Tampa Bay Times’ list of the 50 greatest coaches (pro, college, high school) in bay area history.

The next triumph would thrust Urso — who helped lead Plant to the Class 3A state crown in 1988 — into rarefied local coaching air.

Spartans volleyball coach Chris Catanach and USF softball coach Ken Eriksen are believed to be the only other local coaches with 1,000 victories at the same place. Keswick Christian’s Karrmayne King has totaled more than 1,000 high school wins at the St. Petersburg private academy, albeit over two sports (volleyball, girls basketball).

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