Sam Houston State Bearkats baseball

The Sam Houston State Bearkats baseball team is a varsity intercollegiate athletic team of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, United States.[2] The team is a member of the Southland Conference, an athletic conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The team plays its home games at Don Sanders Stadium.

Sam Houston State Bearkats
Sam Houston State word mark.png
UniversitySam Houston State University
Head coachJay Sirianni (1st season)
LocationHuntsville, Texas
Home stadiumDon Sanders Stadium
(Capacity: 1,164)
ColorsOrange and White[1]
NCAA Tournament champions
NAIA: 1963
College World Series appearances
NAIA: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975
NCAA Tournament appearances
NCAA Division II: 1984, 1985, 1986,
NCAA Division I: 1987, 1989, 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Conference tournament champions
Southland: 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017
Conference champions
Lone Star: 1954, 1955, 1981, 1982
Gulf Star: 1985, 1986, 1987
Southland: 1989, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018


The first Sam Houston State baseball team was fielded in 1906 and was the university's first collegiate athletic team.[3] The modern era for the Bearkats baseball team began in 1949, and the Sam Houston State athletic department does not include any statistics prior to the season in the program's record books.[4] Since 1949, however, Sam Houston State baseball has been one of the most productive sports out of all the university athletic programs. The Bearkats boast an overall 1732-1134-7 (.604) WLT record from 1949 through the 2012 season. The Bearkats claim one national title from the NAIA World Series in 1963.

The Malone years (1949–1956)Edit

To begin the modern era, Hayden "Hap" Malone, former graduate and professor of Physical Education at SHSTC was hired as the head baseball coach in 1949.[5] As a NAIA independent in baseball, Hap Malone's Bearkats saw mixed results in his first 6 years as the Bearkats head coach. The program was quite successful from 1949 through 1950 as the Bearkats posted a combined 24–14 record in those two seasons (15–5 and 19–9 respectively). The next two seasons saw two losing records, (11–13 and 11–14). The 1953 and 1954 seasons were both winning seasons, with the Bearkats posting a 20 win record in 1954. However, the roller coaster ride was not over and the Kats once again fell into mediocrity in 1955–56. After the 1956 season resulting in 10–18 record, their lowest win total to date, Coach Malone was relieved of his duties.[4] Hap Malone was inducted into Sam Houston State's Hall of Honor in 1971.[6]

The Benge supremacy (1957–1968)Edit

To right the ship left by Hap Malone, Sam Houston hired Ray Benge as the new head coach of the Bearkats. Ray Benge formerly pitched for Sam Houston State in the early twenties before being drafted by the Phillies and playing 12 years in the Major Leagues.[7] Benge proved to be the cure to ail all of the Bearkats woes as his teams never saw a losing record.[4] Benge took the Bearkats to six straight NAIA Baseball World Series appearances including one national championship win in 1963 over Grambling.[8] He finished with a 237–102 record and was inducted into SHSU's Hall of Honor with Hap Malone in 1971.[9]

The Bob Britt years (1969–1975)Edit

Despite being the university's shortest tenured coach (excluding current head coach David Pierce), Bob Britt continued the success of the baseball squad following Benge's departure. Like his predecessor, Britt also never head a losing season. He also coached the Bearkats to two NAIA Area Playoff berths in 1969 and 1970, and three NAIA World Series appearances in 1972, 1974, and in 1975 which all were top 3 finishes with the latter two seasons being national runner-up years. Britt also coached Sam Houston to its first two 40-win seasons in 1974 and 1975.[4] He retired from coaching following the 1975 season, but continued to teach Physical Education as a professor at Sam Houston State until 1995.[10] Britt was inducted into Sam Houston State's Hall of Honor in 1979.[9]

The John Skeeters era (1976–2002)Edit

Coach John Skeeters was Sam Houston State's longest tenured baseball coach with over 25 years as the Bearkats' head coach. He picked up right were Britt left off as the Skeeters led Bearkats to winning seasons in his first 16 years as head coach. During this stretch, the Bearkats saw post-season action in 9 different years, including 4 NAIA Area Playoff berths from 1979 through 1982.[11]

In 1984, the Bearkats moved into NCAA Division II and stayed here for three years as an independent and later as a member of the Gulf Star Conference. In Division II, the Bearkats were selected to the regional playoffs in all three years. The Bearkats also were the Gulf Star Champions in 1985 and 1986.[12]

In 1987, the Gulf Star Conference moved up into Division I. In addition to winning the Gulf Star Conference championship in 1987, Sam Houston State also earned a berth into its first Division I regional thanks to a 44–18–1 record, its highest win total to date.[11]

The Bearkats moved to the Southland Conference in 1988 and while they struggled in conference play (11–10 record), they still managed to earn a winning record, finishing 32–25. Despite a rough first season in the Southland, Sam Houston quickly acclimated to its new home and won the 1989 conference championship.[13] In addition to the championship, Sam Houston earned a berth to the NCAA regionals. Following the 1989 season, the Bearkats would not win another conference championship again until Coach Pierce took over in 2012, and would only go to the NCAA regionals once more under Coach Skeeters (1996).[12]

Following four straight losing seasons from 1999–2002, Skeeters decided to resign as head coach of the Sam Houston State Bearkats. His overall mark of 860 wins and 628 losses will cement his legacy as the longest tenured coach for years to come.[14]

Chris Rupp's Bearkats (2003–2006)Edit

Chris Rupp was hired following Skeeters' resignation prior to the 2003 season. In his four years as head coach, Rupp's teams failed to finish with a winning season. In 2006, he resigned as the head coach and finished with an overall record of 86–123 record.[15]

The Mark Johnson years (2007–2012)Edit

Mark Johnson, former Texas A&M coaching legend and member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and Texas Baseball halls of fame, took over as head coach a little more than a month after Rupp's resignation and immediately began working on improving the baseball team. Johnson brought in two full-time assistants to his coaching staff, a luxury the previous two Bearkats coaches did not have.[16] There was seemingly no rebuilding stage for the Bearkats, as Johnson led Sam Houston to a 40–24 record his first year as coach, only a year removed from a 23–31 season under Chris Rupp. Since Johnson joined the Bearkat staff as head coach, the team saw post season action in 4 of his 5 seasons at Sam Houston, including 3 NCAA regional appearances.[4]

Under David Pierce (2012–2014)Edit


David Pierce, who joined the staff in 2011 from Rice, continued where Johnson left off, as the 2012 baseball team saw its best ever Regional finish (2nd) and coached the Bearkats to its first outright league title in 23 years.[17] The 2012 Bearkats lost in the regional title game to Arkansas, who would eventually go on to become a Super Regional Champion to earn a berth in the College World Series.[18] Coach Pierce would later win both the Southland Conference Coach of the Year and the ABCA Coach of the Year at the end of the season.[19]


The start of the 2013 season came with very high expectations for Coach Pierce and the Bearkats. Coming into the season, the Kats received votes in the NCBWA poll and was picked to repeat as Southland Conference champions by the Coaches' and SID polls.[20][21] After a disappointing 3–4 start, the Bearkats would go on to beat then #22 ranked Texas in Austin, and then #19 ranked Rice in Houston to right the ship. Following these big games, however, Sam Houston would lose back to back series' against UCONN and Dallas Baptist. Following these games, the Bearkats went 13–8 in their next 21, including wins over #17 Rice and #19 Houston, but lost a major home series to Oral Roberts which dropped SHSU's Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) far enough down to put an at-large bid for the 2013 regionals in jeopardy. Sam Houston accepted the challenge and worked its way back to finish the season going 13–1 after the Oral Roberts series, earning the #27 spot in the Collegiate Baseball poll.[22] On May 17, 2013, Sam Houston State clinched its second straight outright Southland Conference Title with a 4–0 shutout of Central Arkansas.[23] Following the regular season, Coach Pierce would win the Conference Coach of the Year award yet again,[24] and would earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament Baton Rouge Regional after failing to win the Southland Conference Tournament.[25] In the NCAA tournament, the Bearkats defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in the first game 4–2 behind Luke Plucheck's 3 RBIs.[26] In the winner's bracket, Sam Houston faced regional host and #1 overall LSU Tigers. With the help of a 5 run first inning the Bearkats led the top ranked Tigers 5–4 until the 8th inning. Sam Houston could not upset the Tigers, losing in heartbreaking fashion 8–5.[27] In the last day of the Baton Rouge regional, Sam Houston faced the Ragin' Cajuns for the second time in three days. Sam Houston would jump out to a 3–0 lead, but errors would send the Bearkats home early, as they lost the final game of the season 5–7.[28]

SHSU career coaching recordsEdit

Coach Number of Seasons Overall Record Winning Percentage
Bob Britt 7 225–88 .719
Ray Benge 12 237–102 .699
John Skeeter 27 860–621 .581
David Pierce 3 122–63 .650
Hap Malone 8 112–92 .549
Mark Johnson 5 127–109 .538
Chris Rupp 4 86–123 .411
Matt Deggs 3- Current 156–93 .627

Year-by-year resultsEdit

Year Division Overall Record Conference Record Notes
1949 Hap Malone 15–5 First season in modern era.
1950 Hap Malone 19–9
1951 Hap Malone 11–13
1952 Hap Malone 11–14
1953 Hap Malone 14–11
1954 Hap Malone 20–7
1955 Hap Malone 12–15
1956 Hap Malone 10–18
1957 Ray Benge 17–8
1958 Ray Benge 15–6
1959 Ray Benge 13–3
1960 Ray Benge 23–11 NAIA World Series
1961 Ray Benge 19–11 NAIA World Series
1962 Ray Benge 22–11 NAIA World Series
1963 Ray Benge 27–8 - NAIA National Champions
1964 Ray Benge 27–8 NAIA World Series
1965 Ray Benge 22–8 NAIA World Series
1966 Ray Benge 16–12
1967 Ray Benge 20–7
1968 Ray Benge 16–9
1969 Bob Britt 24–11 NAIA Area Playoffs
1970 Bob Britt 33–9 NAIA Area Playoffs
1971 Bob Britt 23–18
1972 Bob Britt 33–13 NAIA World Series
1973 Bob Britt 27–12
1974 Bob Britt 42–11 NAIA World Series
1975 Bob Britt 43–14 NAIA World Series
1976 John Skeeters 30–20
1977 John Skeeters 37–16
1978 John Skeeters 33–20–1
1979 John Skeeters 38–14 NAIA Area Playoffs
1980 John Skeeters 40–16 NAIA Area Playoffs
1981 John Skeeters 38–18 NAIA Area Playoffs
1982 John Skeeters 33–23 NAIA Area Playoffs
1983 John Skeeters 33–23–1
1984 John Skeeters 42–18 NCAA Division II Regionals
1985 John Skeeters 35–21 12–6 NCAA Division II Regionals
1986 John Skeeters 45–17 16–4 NCAA Division II Regionals
1987 John Skeeters 44–18–1 17–3 NCAA Regionals
1988 John Skeeters 32–25 11–10
1989 John Skeeters 31–23 13–5 NCAA Regionals
1990 John Skeeters 34–22–1 11–6
1991 John Skeeters 33–17 9–5
1992 John Skeeters 28–28 10–11
1993 John Skeeters 30–26 13–9 Southland Tournament
1994 John Skeeters 29–24 15–9 Southland Tournament
1995 John Skeeters 22–32 10–14
1996 John Skeeters 31–29 15–15
1997 John Skeeters 26–27 17–11 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
1998 John Skeeters 29–28 12–10 Southland Tournament
1999 John Skeeters 22–23 8–19
2000 John Skeeters 25–29 14–13 Southland Tournament
2001 John Skeeters 19–31 8–19
2002 John Skeeters 21–33 9–18
2003 Chris Rupp 20–33 9–18
2004 Chris Rupp 19–30–1 11–14
2005 Chris Rupp 24–29–2 13–14
2006 Chris Rupp 23–31 12–18
2007 Mark Johnson 40–24 18–12 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2008 Mark Johnson 37–25 18–12 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2009 Mark Johnson 36–24 18–14 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2010 Mark Johnson 19–36 11–22
2011 Mark Johnson 35–24 17–16 Southland Tournament
2012 David Pierce 40–22 24–9 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2013 David Pierce 38–22 20–7 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2014 David Pierce 44–19 20–7 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2015 Matt Deggs 31–28 17–12 Southland Tournament
2016 Matt Deggs 42–22 24–6 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals
2017 Matt Deggs 44–23 19–11 Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals, NCAA Super Regionals
2018 Matt Deggs 39–20 24–6 Southland Tournament

Source: Houston State University Baseball Record Book

Post season appearancesEdit

Conference tournamentsEdit

Year Conference Record % Finished
1993 Southland 2–2 .500 2nd
1994 Southland 0–2 .000 4th
1996 Southland 4–0 1.000 Champions
1997 Southland 2–2 .500 3rd
1998 Southland 2–2 .500 3rd
2000 Southland 1–2 .333 4th
2007 Southland 4–0 1.000 Champions
2008 Southland 4–0 1.000 Champions
2009 Southland 4–0 1.000 Champions
2011 Southland 1–2 .333 5th
2012 Southland 2–2 .500 3rd
2013 Southland 1–2 .333 5th
2014 Southland 1–2 .333 5th
2015 Southland 3–2 .600 2nd
2016 Southland 4–1 .800 Champions
2017 Southland 4-0 1.000 Champions
2018 Southland 1-2 .333 5th
Total 39–20 .661 16 Appearances

National tournamentsEdit

Year Division Record % Notes
1960 NAIA 2–2 .500 CWS 4th place
1961 NAIA 1–1 .500 CWS 5th place
1962 NAIA 1–2 .333 CWS 6th place
1963 NAIA 4–0 1.000 NAIA National Champions
1964 NAIA 1–2 .333 CWS 4th place
1965 NAIA 2–2 .500 CWS 4th place
1969 NAIA 2–2 .500 Area Playoffs 2nd place
1970 NAIA 1–2 .333 Area Playoffs 2nd place
1972 NAIA 5–3 .625 Area Champions, CWS 3rd place
1974 NAIA 6–2 .750 Area Champions, CWS Runner-Up
1975 NAIA 7–3 .700 Area Champions, CWS Runner-Up
1979 NAIA 2–2 .500 Area Runner-Up
1980 NAIA 1–2 .333 Area Playoffs 3rd place
1981 NAIA 2–2 .500 Area Runner-Up
1982 NAIA 0–2 .000 Area Playoffs 4th place
NAIA Total 31–25 .561 15 Appearances
1984 NCAA D-II 0–2 .000 Brookings Regional 5th place
1985 NCAA D-II 2–2 .500 Romeoville Regional 3rd place
1986 NCAA D-II 2–2 .500 Troy Regional 3rd place
1987 NCAA D-I 2–2 .500 Austin Regional 3rd place
1989 NCAA D-I 0–2 .000 Austin Regional 5th place
1996 NCAA D-I 1–2 .333 Austin Regional 3rd place
2007 NCAA D-I 2–2 .500 Oxford Regional Runner-Up
2008 NCAA D-I 0–2 .00 Houston Regional 4th place
2009 NCAA D-I 0–2 .000 Houston Regional 4th place
2012 NCAA D-I 2–2 .500 Houston Regional Runner-Up
2013 NCAA D-1 1–2 .333 Baton Rouge Regional 3rd place
2014 NCAA D-1 2–2 .500 Fort Worth regional Runner-Up
2016 NCAA D-1 1-2 .333 Lafayette Regional 3rd Place
2017 NCAA D-1 4-3 0.571 1st Place Lubbock Regional,

Tallahassee Super Regional

NCAA Total 18–29 .383 14 Appearances
Total 49–54 .475 29 Appearances

Source: Houston State Record Book: Post Season Results

Notable playersEdit

Many of Sam Houston State's baseball players earned various awards and honors, including 95 All-Conference players, 16 All-Americans, and 7 conference award winners. Film director Richard Linklater also played baseball at Sam Houston State.


The Bearkats have produced 16 All-Americans across three different divisions (NAIA, NCAA D-I, and NCAA D-II). Four of these players earned the honor in multiple years.

1t denotes 1st Team selection, 2t denotes 2nd Team selection, 3t denotes 3rd Team selection, and hm denotes Honorable Mention

Post-season awardsEdit

Sam Houston State has had 9 players earn end of the season awards, such as Pitcher of the Year, Player of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year. These awards were handed out by the Gulf Star Conference from 1985 through 1987 and by the Southland Conference from 1988 through the present.

Conference honors

In 2001 the Bearkats set a new tournament record for runs scored in a game with 22. Third baseman Douglas Moulder and right fielder Josh Harrison both contributed with 2 home runs and 7 R.B.I.s each, also tying each other for the tournament record. Harrison also stole 3 bases in the game. For Moulder, it was his 9th multi-homer game of the season< a school record.

Harrison and Moulder are also tied for the longest home run at Bearkats Stadium. In 1998 Harrison blasted a shot 437 ft. The following year, Moulder launched a ball the same distance in his second hit as a Bearkat.

Seven players have also been selected as the Southland Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player.

  • Brent Bubela, 1996
  • Douglas Moulder, 1999
  • Luke Prihoda, 2007
  • Bobby Verbick, 2008
  • Matt Shelton, 2009
  • Heath Donica, 2016
  • Robie Rojas, 2017

Source: Houston State Record Book: Postseason Honors

Players in Major League BaseballEdit

As of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the Sam Houston State University baseball team has had 11 former members go on to play Major League Baseball:

Player Name Years at SHSU Years in MLB[29]
Ray Benge 1922–1925 1925–1938
Ken Boswell 1965-1965 1967–1977
Fred Beene 1962–1964 1968–1975
Phil Hennigan 1965-1965 1969–1973
Rick Matula 1973–1975 1979–1981
Billy Smith 1974–1977 1981-1981
Glenn Wilson 1978–1980 1982–1993
Don Welchel 1976–1978 1982–1983
Steve Sparks 1986–1987 1995–2004
Jordan Tata 2002–2003 2006–2007
Robert Manuel 2005-2005 2009–2010
Ryan Tepera 2006–2009 2015–present
Caleb Smith 2011–2013 2017–present

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "FAQ's about new branding". April 16, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "Sam Houston State Bearkats". Retrieved 2013-03-15.
  3. ^ "Important Dates in Bearkat Athletic History". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  4. ^ a b c d e Sam Houston State Baseball Record Book: Year-By-Year (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 2.
  5. ^ "Hayden Malone". BuildingSHSU. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  6. ^ "SHSU Hall of Honor Members (M-N)". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  7. ^ "Ray Benge". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  8. ^ "Sam Houston State National Titles". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  9. ^ a b "SHSU Hall of Honor (A-C)". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  10. ^ Matt Schwartz (2002-01-09). "Deaths: Bob Britt, 70, retired teacher, coach at Sam Houston State". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  11. ^ a b Post Season (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 3.
  12. ^ a b "National Tournament Appearances". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  13. ^ "Sam Houston Conference Championships". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  14. ^ Lacy, Drew (2002-07-17). "Skeeters shocks players with news of resignation". The Huntsville Item.
  15. ^ Cody Stark (2006-05-26). "Rupp resigns as SHSU skipper". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  16. ^ Tom Waddill (2006-07-07). "Sam Houston lands former Aggie skipper". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
  17. ^ "Southland Baseball Title A Team Effort". 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  18. ^ Joseph Duarte (2012-06-03). "Arkansas tops Sam Houston State in regional final". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
  19. ^ "Sam Houston State's Pierce Named ABCA Regional Coach of the Year". Southland Conference. 2012-07-26. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  20. ^ "Bearkats Receiving Votes in NCBWA Preseason Poll". GoBearkats. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  21. ^ "Bearkats Picked to Win 2013 Southland Conference Baseball Title". Southland Conference. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  22. ^ "Kats Move Up in Collegiate Baseball Poll". 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  23. ^ "BEARKAT BASEBALL — Kats repeat as outright conference champs". Huntsville Item. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  24. ^ "SFA Shortstop Dozier Named Southland Baseball Player of the Year". Southland Conference. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  25. ^ Gene Schallenberg (2013-05-28). "BEARKAT BASEBALL: Kats in NCAA tourney again as at-large selection". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  26. ^ Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-01). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: So far so good for SHSU". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
  27. ^ Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-02). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: Bearkats so close yet so far away". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
  28. ^ Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-03). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: Bearkats make too many mistakes". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
  29. ^ "Sam Houston State University Baseball Players Who Made it to the Major Leagues". 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2013.

External linksEdit