MERCED -- Nate Devine has been preparing for this moment since he was a kid.
The Merced College pitching coach has dreamed of manning his own program since he was 13 years old. And with that in mind, Devine said MC head coach Chris Pedretti began teaching him the ropes while he was a player in the Blue Devil system.
Devine has absorbed as much as he can while under Pedretti since returning to the Blue Devils in 2007, hoping one day to take over the reigns in Merced or abroad.
Devine is getting his wish a little sooner than expected. Pedretti has opted to take a sabbatical for the upcoming school year, leaving someone else to pencil in the MC lineups for the first time in 30 years.
Devine will serve as the head coach in his absence.
"I'm pretty excited for this opportunity," Devine said. "Chris had mentioned the possibility during last season, so we had a little time to prepare.
"I told Chris I wanted to be a college coach back when I was a player, so he's been helping me prepare for this for a while. It's just a one-year thing, so all I'm focused on is continuing to do what we've been doing."
Pedretti said he'll use the time to travel to other schools and learn what they're doing successfully with the academics of student athletes.
"It's a opportunity that the school offers and after 30 years of coaching, I figured the timing was good," Pedretti said. "One of the things I've felt has made us so successful is that I delegate a lot of responsibilities to my assistants and hold them accountable for it.
"Nate's been a big part of that and is prepared for what he's getting in to. I doubt the program will skip a beat."
Don't expect many wholesale changes in Devine's short tenure. With nine straight playoff appearances and three straight trips to the Super Regionals, Devine hopes to just stay the course.
"Chris and I are so alike in many ways, but we're also different in our approach," Devine said. "That's the biggest difference I anticipate, just little personality things and approaches.
"Coach has done such a good job of delegating responsibilities to his assistants over the years, that I don't think it's going to be a tough transition.
"I've already had my hand in our practices and our training. The one area that will probably be the toughest for me is the office work. I haven't had to deal with that since I was a grad assistant.
"But I know if I need help, Chris and Steve (Cassady) will be there to lean on."