This weekend is not quite a homecoming for Florida State baseball coach Link Jarrett.
Not in the same sense that it was when he came down to Tallahassee last season as the head coach of Notre Dame.
When Jarrett returned to Dick Howser Stadium in 2022, he was coming back to the place where he watched games as a little boy and then started at shortstop for the better part of four seasons as a Seminole.
This weekend, when he coaches at Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend, Ind., Jarrett will be doing it in a facility he helped build. At a program he helped reach all-time heights. Which eventually allowed him the opportunity to land his dream job at his alma mater.
“This is going to be different,” Jarrett said on Thursday. “I really haven’t had a chance to even absorb some of the stuff I think that happened because of how this transpired here right after the College World Series. So, it will be unique to walk out on the field — the field that I kind of redid the turf, the bullpens, the cages, the graphics, the dugouts, really all of it.
“And to walk back in after you’ve been away for a little while, to take a look at what this actually looks like, it’ll be unique on a lot of layers. There’s no way around it.”
Jarrett isn’t the only former Notre Dame coach returning to South Bend this weekend, of course.
Both of his assistants, Rich Wallace and Chuck Ristano, were with him the previous three years as well. Ristano, in fact, had been at Notre Dame for the previous 12 seasons. His wife, Lizzy, was a softball coach there for 17 years.
And this weekend is the final home series of the year for that Fighting Irish team (ironically against the No. 4 Florida State softball team). So, Sunday will be Senior Day for a team that Lizzy Ristano helped recruit a large portion of.
“There are really some interesting layers to this,” Jarrett said. “This one might be as unique, clearly, as any I’ve been a part of it. Even further, maybe heard of.”
The Notre Dame baseball team, coming off that memorable run to Omaha last year, is currently 23-16 overall and 11-10 in the ACC. After winning the conference by four games in 2021 and then knocking off the No. 1 team in the country in the Super Regionals in 2022, the Fighting Irish have obviously taken a step back in 2023.
Not nearly as big a step backward as Jarrett’s new squad has, of course.
Florida State comes into this series with a 14-25 overall record and a 5-16 mark in the conference. The Seminoles have lost six straight ACC series dating back to March 11.
Now, they’re on the road in a series that will be unlike any other they play all year. For obvious reasons.
“It’s kind of tricky to put this into words …,” Jarrett said. “We built that roster. You had a hand in recruiting all those guys.”
He also had an enormous hand in putting together arguably the best two-year run in Notre Dame baseball history.
And as much as we might like to appreciate the fruits of that labor, and soak up just how much better the program and facilities are in his former home, he knows he’s got a whole bunch of work to do at his actual home.
“Some of the memories you have you’ll cherish those forever,” Jarrett said of his time at Notre Dame. “There’s a pretty deep layering of it. Hopefully, we go up and play winning, championship-caliber baseball. Ultimately, that’s we have to do. We don’t have an option at this point.”
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