The last time Ryan Overland and Erik Wetzel were on the diamond as collegiate players was a time that no Diamond Dog, player or fan, will ever forget.

"[A] pretty special time," said Overland. "It was a really fun two weeks, just the whole experience."

"We learned to play together and we learned to do it all and not care about who got the credit," said Wetzel. "We just wanted to go win."

But fast-forward to 2013, and both Diamond Dogs have come back to Beiden Field, only now as coaches on Mike Batesole's staff.

"Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion," said Batesole. "I could have gone out and got a coach that has 17 guys in the big leagues or has coached 16 all-Americans. But the heart that these two brought to our program, that's what we want to rub off on our current players."

A catcher for the Bulldogs in his playing days, Overland takes over as the third base coach, in addition to working with the outfielders and catchers.

"The chance to coach where I played, went to school, work for Coach Batesole, who I have a ton of respect for," Overland said. "I love everything about the program, the school and the community. Ultimately it was just an opportunity that was too good."

A former Freshman all-American and three time All-WAC selection, Wetzel will coach first base and work with middle infielders as an undergraduate student coach, while he finishes his degree.

"This program has a special place in my heart, and it was definitely an honor to have the opportunity to come back and be on the field again, and be a part of this program," Wetzel said. "Especially while I'm finishing up my school."

And still in their twenties, both Overland and Wetzel believe they'll use the Cinderella season of 2008 to relate to the current Diamond Dogs on a deeper level.

"Just how to go about it, because it wasn't something that just happened," said Overland. "That was years in the process, the teams before that, guys that were here before us."

"Because of my age and my close proximity to when I last played, I know how it was as a player," said Wetzel. "I'm not saying anything about the other coaches and their age. But there definitely is a connection I've made with some of these guys."

And that's fine with Batesole, who expects his team to adopt the coaching staff's toughness and character.

"The heart that these two played with, what they did in big games, what they did on a daily basis in the clubhouse and finishing it in the classroom," explained Batesole, "is exactly what we want from all of our players."

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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