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ASU Baseball: Sun Devils, pitching coach Jason Kelly to part ways

Surprise decision

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 UCLA at Arizona State Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jason Kelly is no longer with the Arizona State baseball program.

The sudden, and patently unexpected news first reported by Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic on Twitter Friday afternoon will have ramifications at every level of the program. Not only was Kelly committed to return for his third season as the Sun Devil’s pitching coach, but 2022 would also mark his first year as recruiting coordinator for the program.

Kelly is reportedly interviewing for the pitching coach position at LSU. Like Arizona State, the LSU program will have a new coach, Jay Johnson, who was formerly Arizona’s head coach for six seasons.

During his short tenure in Tempe, Kelly helped manufacture one of the top pitching staffs in the Pac-12. Faced with two starting pitchers suffering season-ending elbow injuries in the first month of the 2021 season, Kelly guided an inexperienced pitching staff to 15 of 18 weekend series victories and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

He was originally hired by recently dismissed Sun Devil head coach Tracy Smith after a successful tenure as Washington’s pitching coach. At Washington, he was named the 2018 National Assistant Coach of the Year by D1Baseball.

Now, new head coach Willie Bloomquist will have to find a new pitching coach and a new recruiting coordinator. Kelly was the last coaching link from the Smith era to the new staff, and his presence will be missed both on the field and on the recruiting trail.