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Assistant Coach Justin Blood

Justin Blood is in his third season as an assistant coach at UConn.  He spent the summer of 2005 as the pitching coach for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League before joining the University of Connecticut baseball program in August.  Blood, a former professional baseball player, is the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Huskies.

Under Blood’s direction, the UConn pitching staff posted a 3.47 earned run average in 2006, its lowest since the 1989 season. The Huskies’ team ERA was good for second in the BIG EAST and 17th in the nation. At the conclusion of the season, Tim Norton and Nick Tucci were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. In fact, Norton, Tucci and John Slusarz were each taken in the Major League Baseball Draft in early June.

“Justin is an excellent communicator,” said Penders.  “His professional experience, work ethic and organizational skills are true assets to our program.”

Blood was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and excelled in the minor leagues before retiring to pursue coaching on the collegiate level. Upon retirement, Blood had accumulated a 3.97 ERA in 82 games as a minor league player with a 7-4 record. He helped to lead the Inland Empire 66ers to the California League Class A title in 2003, posting a 5-2 record with two saves and a 3.07 ERA with 77 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 58.2 innings out of the bullpen.

The New Hampshire native joined the coaching staff at Quinnipiac University in 2003, serving as a volunteer coach. In 2004, he returned to his alma mater, Franklin Pierce College, to complete his degree and work as the baseball team’s student assistant. Prior to assisting, Blood played three years for Franklin Pierce before being drafted. He ranks among career leaders at the college with 235 strikeouts (second), 12 wins (fourth) and a 4.62 ERA (seventh) in 204.2 innings (fourth) over 38 appearances (third) with 12 complete games (fourth). In 2001, he struck out a program-record 20 New Hampshire College batters, which still ranks fifth in NCAA Division II single-game history.

Blood married the former Hannah Walters in September 2006.  The couple resides in Vernon, Conn. 


Assistant Coach Christopher Podeszwa

Chris Podeszwa enters his fifth season as an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut. Podeszwa’s focus is primarily on the instruction of infielders and hitters.  

After graduating from UConn in 1993, Podeszwa served as an envoy coach for Major League Baseball International in New York and Europe. His responsibilities included preparing the German Junior National Team for the European Championships and organizing and developing coordinated clinics for youth players and coaches.

"Dez is a full-time teacher and there is nobody that works harder than he does," said Penders. "His energy is contagious and his contribution to our success is immeasurable."

In 1995, Podeszwa moved to Sweden to become the head coach of the Skelleftea Bears Baseball Club in Skelleftea, Sweden. His stay in Scandinavia was highlighted by his U-19 team capturing the Swedish National Championship.

In 1996, Podeszwa was hired as the assistant baseball coach at Mitchell College in New London, Conn., and in 1998, he became the assistant baseball coach for the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point branch under head coach Roger Bidwell. At Avery Point, Podeszwa helped lead his squads to the NJCAA Region XXI Championship in 1999 and 2000. Avery Point also captured the Northeast Region Championship in 1999 and earned a trip to the NJCAA Division II World Series.

In between summer evaluation and recruiting assignments for the Huskies, Podeszwa continues to serve as a part-time assistant baseball coach for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod Baseball League, who won the league championship in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Since 1997, he has assisted in the recruitment of players nationwide and is the coordinator of defensive strategies.

Podeszwa played at UConn from 1990-93. He was part of the 1990 BIG EAST Championship club and played every position for the Huskies except center field. He and Penders were teammates at UConn for two seasons.

Podeszwa is married to UConn alum, Isabella Basile, and the couple has three children, Sophia, Connor and Emilia.  The Podeszwa's reside in Waterford, Conn.



Volunteer Assistant Coach Steven Malinowski

Malinowski comes back to UConn after a one-year stint at Bryant University as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs. Prior to Bryant, he spent a year as a student assistant coach for Jim Penders at UConn after playing two seasons with the Huskies.

"As a former player of ours and a former student-assistant, I know he is going to bring meticulous organizational, superior communication and excellent coaching skills to the program," said Penders. "His loyalty and work ethic will be great examples for our student-athletes to follow.  He had a super year at Bryant under Coach Pinzino and he knows what it takes to win.  I’m so glad he chose to come back to Storrs to help us get better every day in every way.”

As a senior at UConn, Malinowski played in 33 games and finished the year with a .260 batting average. He recorded three doubles and two homeruns as well as 19 RBIs on 27 hits. The two homeruns that season both came in the BIG EAST Tournament, including one in his final at-bat in a Husky uniform.

As a junior transfer from Wake Forest in 2004, Malinowski saw action in 25 games and recorded 16 hits and 13 runs scored.

While at Wake Forest for two seasons, he played in 51 games as both a pitcher and catcher. He held a .227 average as a freshman with 21 runs and 20 RBIs. In his first collegiate game, he went 4-for-5 with four runs scored to become the first freshman in Wake Forest history to tally four hits in his debut.

Malinowski is a native of Kensington, Conn. and graduated from UConn with a degree in coaching and administration in 2007.

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