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. 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|
|University||Sam Houston State University|
|Head coach||Jay Sirianni (1st season)|
|Home stadium||Don Sanders Stadium |
|Colors||Orange and White|
|NCAA Tournament champions|
|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|
|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. 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. 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. 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. Hap Malone was inducted into Sam Houston State's Hall of Honor in 1971.
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. Benge proved to be the cure to ail all of the Bearkats woes as his teams never saw a losing record. Benge took the Bearkats to six straight NAIA Baseball World Series appearances including one national championship win in 1963 over Grambling. He finished with a 237–102 record and was inducted into SHSU's Hall of Honor with Hap Malone in 1971.
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. He retired from coaching following the 1975 season, but continued to teach Physical Education as a professor at Sam Houston State until 1995. Britt was inducted into Sam Houston State's Hall of Honor in 1979.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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).
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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. On May 17, 2013, Sam Houston State clinched its second straight outright Southland Conference Title with a 4–0 shutout of Central Arkansas. Following the regular season, Coach Pierce would win the Conference Coach of the Year award yet again, and would earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament Baton Rouge Regional after failing to win the Southland Conference Tournament. In the NCAA tournament, the Bearkats defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in the first game 4–2 behind Luke Plucheck's 3 RBIs. 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. 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.
SHSU career coaching recordsEdit
|Coach||Number of Seasons||Overall Record||Winning Percentage|
|Matt Deggs||3- Current||156–93||.627|
|Year||Division||Overall Record||Conference Record||Notes|
|1949||Hap Malone||15–5||–||First season in modern era.|
|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|
|1969||Bob Britt||24–11||–||NAIA Area Playoffs|
|1970||Bob Britt||33–9||–||NAIA Area Playoffs|
|1972||Bob Britt||33–13||–||NAIA World Series|
|1974||Bob Britt||42–11||–||NAIA World Series|
|1975||Bob Britt||43–14||–||NAIA World Series|
|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|
|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|
|1989||John Skeeters||31–23||13–5||NCAA Regionals|
|1993||John Skeeters||30–26||13–9||Southland Tournament|
|1994||John Skeeters||29–24||15–9||Southland Tournament|
|1997||John Skeeters||26–27||17–11||Southland Tournament, NCAA Regionals|
|1998||John Skeeters||29–28||12–10||Southland Tournament|
|2000||John Skeeters||25–29||14–13||Southland Tournament|
|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|
|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|
Post season appearancesEdit
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
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.
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
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|
- "FAQ's about new branding". GoBearkats.com. April 16, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
- "Sam Houston State Bearkats". d1baseball.com. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
- "Important Dates in Bearkat Athletic History". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- Sam Houston State Baseball Record Book: Year-By-Year (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 2.
- "Hayden Malone". BuildingSHSU. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "SHSU Hall of Honor Members (M-N)". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "Ray Benge". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "Sam Houston State National Titles". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "SHSU Hall of Honor (A-C)". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- Matt Schwartz (2002-01-09). "Deaths: Bob Britt, 70, retired teacher, coach at Sam Houston State". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- Post Season (PDF). Sam Houston State Athletics. p. 3.
- "National Tournament Appearances". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "Sam Houston Conference Championships". Sam Houston State Athletics. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- Lacy, Drew (2002-07-17). "Skeeters shocks players with news of resignation". The Huntsville Item.
- Cody Stark (2006-05-26). "Rupp resigns as SHSU skipper". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- Tom Waddill (2006-07-07). "Sam Houston lands former Aggie skipper". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-31.
- "Southland Baseball Title A Team Effort". GoBearkats.com. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- Joseph Duarte (2012-06-03). "Arkansas tops Sam Houston State in regional final". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "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.
- "Bearkats Receiving Votes in NCBWA Preseason Poll". GoBearkats. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- "Bearkats Picked to Win 2013 Southland Conference Baseball Title". Southland Conference. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- "Kats Move Up in Collegiate Baseball Poll". GoBearkats.com. 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- "BEARKAT BASEBALL — Kats repeat as outright conference champs". Huntsville Item. 2013-05-17. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
- "SFA Shortstop Dozier Named Southland Baseball Player of the Year". Southland Conference. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Gene Schallenberg (2013-05-28). "BEARKAT BASEBALL: Kats in NCAA tourney again as at-large selection". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-01). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: So far so good for SHSU". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-02). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: Bearkats so close yet so far away". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- Gene Schallenberg (2013-06-03). "NCAA BASEBALL REGIONAL: Bearkats make too many mistakes". The Huntsville Item. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
- "Sam Houston State University Baseball Players Who Made it to the Major Leagues". 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2013.