WKU head baseball coach Matt Myers enters his second season at the helm of the Hilltopper baseball program, and his sixth season overall on the Hill.
Myers, who spent four years as an assistant coach at WKU before being named the permanent head coach on July 11, 2011, has 19 years of Division I experience as a head coach, assistant coach and a student-athlete.
In his first season as head coach at WKU, Myers’ Hilltoppers went 25-33 in 2012, persevering despite battling difficult injuries throughout the season, including star pitcher Tanner Perkins, who was lost for the season on March 3. The left-handed starter had posted a 7-4 record in 2011, to go along with a 2.36 ERA, and was 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA in three starts before the injury in 2012.
Despite the loss of Perkins, the WKU pitching rotation relied heavily on the emergence of left-handed starters Tim Bado and Austin Clay, who won a combined eight games in 2012. Clay performed well down the stretch, winning over rival Middle Tennessee in the final series of the season, and allowed only 19 walks in 74.0 innings of work.
Myers, who is known for his ability to develop pitchers, helped reliever Taylor Haydel have a career year in 2012, leading WKU with a 2.35 ERA in 23 appearances out of the Hilltopper bullpen, to go along with a pair of starts. Haydel worked 65.0 innings in his junior campaign, striking out 74 batters, while walking only 12, which is good for nearly a 7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Hilltopper pitching staff as a whole struck out 443 in 2012, which increased from 414 strikeouts in 2011. The 443 strikeouts ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference, as WKU averaged 7.45 strikeouts per nine innings. The Hilltopper pitching staff also limited the deep ball, allowing a Sun Belt low 22 home runs on the year, which was 12 less than the next-closest school.
On the offensive side, Myers saw his Hilltopper squad bring a more patient approach to the batter’s box in 2012, as WKU drew 277 walks on the year, good for the sixth-most in program history, and the most since drawing 290 free passes in 2009.
Arguably the biggest win for Myers and his staff in 2012 came at Bowling Green Ballpark on May 1, as the Hilltoppers took down 18th-ranked Louisville 8-1 in front of 2,323 fans. The win gave WKU its first win over a ranked opponent since knocking off 25th-ranked Louisville in 2011, and was the highest ranked opponent the Hilltoppers have defeated since beating No. 18 Vanderbilt on March 16, 2010.
Myers’ Hilltoppers held Louisville to just one run on four hits, as the WKU bullpen went four innings, not allowing a single hit after starter Ian Thompkins allowed just one run on four hits over 6.0 innings of work. The win at Bowling Green Ballpark moved the Hilltoppers to 4-0 at the venue all-time in regular season games, outscoring opponents 58-22 during those four games.
Following the win over Louisville, WKU responded to finish the regular season 6-5, including taking two of three on the final weekend of the season against conference rival Middle Tennessee, which secured the Hilltoppers a spot in the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament. WKU clinched a berth in the conference tournament after taking a 5-4, 13-inning thriller over the Blue Raiders at Nick Denes Field in game two of the series.
Despite the loss of five seniors following the 2012 season, Myers and his coaching staff put together a stellar signing class stocked full of high school and junior college talent. In what was Myers’ first official signing class since taking over the reins of the WKU program, the Hilltopper head coach ended up with 14 signees in the class, with seven from the state of Kentucky, including four from within a 30-mile radius of Bowling Green. The class spanned from seven different states, with five junior college players looking to make immediate impacts in 2013.
Throughout his coaching career, Myers has coached 28 professional draft picks or free agent signees, 16 all-conference pitchers, six freshman All-Americans, three first-team All-Americans, two conference pitchers of the year, and two conference freshmen of the year. Myers, who was WKU's associate head coach before his appointment to head coach, has also coached five pitchers selected in the top 10 rounds of the MLB First Year Player Draft.
Under Myers’ guidance, the Hilltopper pitching staff has finished in the top three in team ERA in the Sun Belt Conference in three of the last five seasons, including a 4.33 team ERA in 2010, ranking 29th in the nation.
At the end of that 2010 season, three pitchers on Myers' staff were chosen in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, as sophomore closer Rye Davis was taken in the 36th round by the Cleveland Indians, Bart Carter was a 39th-round selection by the Minnesota Twins and Matt Ridings went in the 41st round to the Kansas City Royals.
In a short time in the minor leagues, Ridings has been elevated to Class A Advanced Wilmington after being named a Midwest League All-Star with the Kane County Cougars in 2012.
Myers joined the WKU baseball staff in July of 2007 and was promoted to associate head baseball coach following his second season on the staff in 2009.
Before joining the WKU baseball staff, Myers spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Auburn University, joining Tom Slater’s staff with the Tigers. Myers served as an assistant at Auburn with former Hilltopper head coach Chris Finwood, who was an assistant coach at Auburn at the time of Myers’ arrival.
In his first year at Auburn, Myers helped guide the Tiger pitching staff to a 3.89 team ERA, the lowest by a Tigers staff in 10 years. The team also posted 21 saves and surrendered just 169 walks during the 2005 season - the fewest walks issued by any staff in the Southeastern Conference. Myers saw four of his pitchers selected in the first 13 rounds of the 2005 MLB First Year Player Draft.
Prior to his arrival at Auburn, Myers served as the head coach at UNC Asheville for four seasons, earning Big South Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2003. Taking the position at the age of 26 – the youngest Division I head coach at the time – Myers directed a turnaround within the Bulldog baseball program, finishing in the top half of the league in each of his final three years at Asheville, including 27 wins in 2003, leading to his Coach of the Year honor. Myers, much like he has done everywhere he has been, developed pitching during his time with the Bulldogs, as his staff set five school records during his tenure, and saw seven of his pitchers sign professionally and four others earn Freshman All-America honors.
As a player, Myers pitched two seasons at Tennessee (1996-97), posting a 13-4 career record and helping the Volunteers to a pair of NCAA Regional appearances. The 1996 Tennessee team was one win shy of making the College World Series, the equivalent of being a Super Regional finalist. His .765 winning percentage ranks fifth all-time at Tennessee. He also pitched a season at Cal State-Sacramento (1994) and Sacramento City College (1995).
A native of Carmichael, Calif., Myers is married to the former Michelle Gillum of Celina, Ohio. The couple has a son, Carson.
WKU head coach Matt Myers
(on the 2012-13 signing class)
"I am very excited about our 2012 signing class for the 2013 season. I feel like we have fulfilled all of our needs with impact guys that show tremendous character. They are talented players, but more importantly they are great human beings. Coach [Blake] Allen and Coach [Brendan] Dougherty have done a tremendous job of identifying each of these individuals and developing the necessary relationships to make them the newest Hilltoppers. I am very appreciative of their hard work.”
(on being hired as the head baseball coach at WKU)
"I am so excited and grateful to have the opportunity to be the next head baseball coach at WKU. I want to thank President Ransdell and Ross Bjork for their trust and support in me to take this program to the next level. Having put so much into this program and being a proud resident of Bowling Green, it means more than I can express to have this opportunity. This is much more than a job, because this community is so special to us and the support our family has received has been incredible. I am looking forward to getting our recruits in and our players back. We will have the enthusiasm, energy and passion necessary to get back to trying to win a Sun Belt Conference Championship and get back into the NCAA Regionals. That is the goal every year and that is the goal this year. The guys have been working hard and playing great over the summer, and I am really proud of those guys in how they supported this entire process. They did a heck of a job and showed a heck of an amount of maturity and I am real appreciative to our players. I couldn't be happier to be the next head coach in a place that I want to be for a long time. WKU is a special place and a special university and our program has so much potential. It is a great time to be a part of what is going on here."
Former WKU Director of Athletics Ross Bjork
(on the hiring of Matt Myers)
"Our program has produced significant and meaningful achievements on the field and in the classroom over the last four years, and our mission was to find the best individual to sustain the momentum we have achieved and also elevate the WKU baseball program to the next level. The level of interest shown in this position was tremendous, which is a clear indication of how much respect our program has nationwide. The list of candidates who showed interest included individuals with major league baseball playing experience, current collegiate head coaches, former head coaches, and current assistant coaches from major conferences throughout the country. However, as our search unfolded, it became clear that Matt Myers was the ideal person to serve as our next head baseball coach. He clearly demonstrated that he has both the right attitude and the blueprint for success that our program needs moving forward. He has high level experience and a proven record of success at multiple levels as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach. He also has the respect of his peers, our student-athletes and our community, and no one knows and understands all facets of the WKU baseball program like Matt does. I know that Matt will give his full effort and I have complete confidence that he is the perfect person for our job and that his leadership will enable us to consistently produce the results and high level of success our university, program and community deserves."