DALTON, GA – AstroTurf, the inventor of synthetic turf and a leading innovator in the industry, has partnered with some of the top leaders in the sport of baseball to launch the AstroTurf Baseball Coaches Advisory Council.
As AstroTurf continues its commitment in developing the best possible products for each sport, we felt it was important that we were getting input from those whose expectations for safety, durability, and performance are of the highest priority.
The council will meet to discuss product expectations, challenges, and technological advancements that are coming more and more rapidly in baseball surfacing.
The AstroTurf story cannot be told without starting with baseball. The very first application for AstroTurf was for baseball in the Houston Astrodome more than 50 years ago.
Baseball is still a very important and successful part of our business and continuity and longevity are dependent on one thing – the ability to adapt and improve. By spending years many years on research and development that has resulted in making the AstroTurf Diamond Series the most trusted and chosen baseball system on the market.
The first AstroTurf Baseball features an all-star lineup of coaches from some of the top college and high school baseball teams in the country on numerous levels.
“Obviously, we’re pretty excited with the AstroTurf Team of coaches we’ve put together for our very first Baseball Advisory Board, said AstroTurf’s National Manager of Baseball Sales Aaron Klotz. “What a group of coaches, I kinda wish I was batting third and playing for this group – wow – absolute well respected coaches from all levels of this great game, studs.
“This shows a couple of things, the relationships we’ve built with our customers and the trust our customers have with us. We preach up front were going to be partners for a long time and this certainly proves our point.”
In 2009 AstroTurf developed the Diamond Series after thousands of hours of research and testing from our team of lab technicians and baseball leaders. It was the first baseball specific system using different fibers, our RootZone technology and infills. The AstroTurf team was the first turf company to product the ball bounce test, the ball speed test and durability test for baseball. Finally, the sport of baseball had a world-class system.
AstroTurf’s Diamond Series achieves the most natural playability of all synthetic turf systems by tailoring a range of unique products to each area of the field. The Diamond Series offers three systems (RBI, OPS and HR) to give coaches control of their field and budgets.
AstroTurf continues to build on its golden past as part of SportGroup.
SportGroup is today’s true global sports surfacing giant, with manufacturing facilities around the world. Active in more than 70 countries, SportGroup has installed more than 30,000 turf fields and running tracks. SportGroup was created by selective acquisitions of the leading turf, track, indoor and outdoor sports surface manufacturers.
“The thing about this advisory board is that it’s much like coaching a team – you’re always striving to improve by learning, added Klotz. “You never stay the same and we certainly pride ourselves on that. We want feedback, recommendations and suggestions from our coaches – the guys who are in the trenches – with their boots on the ground. We trust and value that input and it’s a relationship that you don’t see from many in this industry with their clients and were certainly very proud and thankful to have these (relationships), that’s for sure.”
Applegate was hired as the CSU Pueblo Head Baseball Coach in June of 2021. A graduate of CSU Pueblo and a member of the 1994 team that resurrected the baseball program, Applegate brings nearly 25 years of coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level to the ThunderWolves. Applegate had spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach at the United States Naval Academy where he also served as the pitching coach and co-recruiting coordinator. He also had stints as an assistant at NCAA Division I University of California, Riverside, Brigham Young University and the United States Air Force Academy. In all, Applegate has developed more than 30 players who have signed to Major League Baseball organizations.
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
Greg Beals, a Springfield, Ohio, native with 28 years of coaching experience is heading into his 12th season as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2022. He holds a 568-460-1 career record and is 325-258-1 overall record at Ohio State. Beals has guided the Buckeyes to three NCAA Regional appearances in the last six years and has led the Scarlet and Gray to two Big Ten Tournament titles (2016 and 2019). He ranks third among active Big Ten coaches in Division I career wins and holds a 16-7 record vs. conference-rival Michigan. Beals has produced six Buckeye All-Americans and 41 All-Big Ten honorees. His program has developed 27 MLB draft picks in the last 10 years.
Bell enters his fourth season as head coach of Pitt baseball. Bell was hired in July of 2018, becoming the fifth head coach in Pitt baseball history and bringing 14 years of Division I coaching experience to the Panther program. He joined Pitt after a seven-year stint as the associate head coach and pitching coach at ACC powerhouse Florida State. In 2021, the Panthers finished 23-20 with a 16-17 conference record. In 2020, Bell guided the Panthers to a 10-6 record before the season was cut short due to COVID-19. Revamping the roster with 21 newcomers, Bell lead the Panthers to a 10-1 start to the year, tied for the second-best start through 11 games in program history. Pitt’s offense played a huge part, ranking in the nation second in doubles per game (2.88), 37th in slugging percentage (.447) and 38th in scoring (7.3 runs per game). Since 2005, Bell has helped lead three teams to four College World Series appearances – Tennessee (2005), Oklahoma (2010) and Florida State (2012 & 2017). He has coached nine first round draft picks, 35 Top-10 round picks, 92 overall Draft picks, 19 Major Leaguers, and helped guide 12 Top-25 recruiting classes. In 2012, he was named the Perfect Game Assistant Coach of the Year and was named the No. 13 recruiter in the country by D1Baseball.com prior to the 2017 season. In five of his seven seasons, Florida State pitchers have recorded 500 or more strikeouts, including a pair of top 10 seasons in 2017 (640, fifth most) and 2018 (635, seventh most). The Seminoles posted a 314-136-0 record in his tenure, reaching a Super Regional on three occasions, advancing to the College World Series twice. Florida State captured three ACC titles in Bell’s time in Tallahassee, Fla., taking home conference tournament titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
In a coaching career that dates back to the mid-1980s, Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin has put up some impressive numbers. Corbin’s record of 802-377-1 (.680) is first all-time in wins at Vanderbilt and first in winning percentage for coaches with 100-plus games … Boasts a career record of 908-515-1 (.638)…. Has led Vanderbilt to 15 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, matching Arkansas’s Dave Van Horn (2003-15) for the longest in SEC history … Helped Vanderbilt to five College World Series appearances including four trips to the finals … Since taking over in 2003, 52 players have been named All-America including 17 who have received first-team All-America recognition … Tutored 29 freshman All-Americans and 26 future MLB players. The 2022 season is the 20th as head coach at Vanderbilt for Tim Corbin. During his tenure Corbin has turned the Commodores into a national power, leading Vanderbilt to two national championships in the last eight seasons (2014, 2019). Corbin’s record is first all-time in wins at Vanderbilt and first in winning percentage for coaches with 100 games or more. Corbin’s efforts have paid off in the win column and across the board as D1Baseball.com tabbed Vandy the top program in the nation in 2015 and second in 2017 and 2019.
Brian Green completed his second season leading the Cougars after being named the 17th baseball coach in Washington State history June 3, 2019. In just his second season leading the Cougars, Green guided WSU to its first winning season since 2015 and the most Pac-12 Conference wins since 2014 after posting conference series wins at Utah, at California, against No. 8 Oregon and Washington. WSU went 26-23 overall and 13-17 in conference Green spent the previous five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater New Mexico State where he led the Aggies to a 2019 Western Athletic Conference regular-season championship and an NCAA Regional appearance in 2018. Green led NMSU to an historic four-year stretch that saw the Aggies record 34 wins or more in each of the last four seasons and also signed four-straight nationally recognized recruiting classes along the way. Green has appeared in seven NCAA Regionals as a head coach or assistant coach at the Division I level. A native of Temecula, Calif., Green was a four-year assistant coach at UCLA (2005-08) before going to Kentucky as one of the top hitting instructors in college baseball. Green helped lead the Bruins to three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and to the Super Regionals in 2007. Other stops for Green include Hawaii, Oregon State, San Diego, Chapman University, Cal Poly-Pomona, Riverside Community College and New Mexico State. Green, 48, graduated from New Mexico State with a degree in business management in 1995 and earned his master’s degree in education from National University in 1997.
Justin Haire is in his eighth season as head coach of the Campbell University Fighting Camels and his 15th as a member of the Campbell baseball coaching staff. Haire enters the 2022 season with a 202-156 (.564) record through his first six seasons at the helm of Campbell baseball. He is one of four head coaches in program history to reach triple-digit wins, joining Goff (2008-14, 224 wins), Chip Smith (1996-2006, 267 wins) and Cal Koonce (1980-86, 174 wins). In 2021, the Camels claimed their third consecutive Big South regular season crown before falling in the Big South Championship game. After a 33-14 regular season, Campbell earned its first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and the fifth tournament appearance in program history. Since Justin Haire took over in 2015, Campbell has won 202 games and averages over 28 per year (32.5 excluding the short 2020 season) and he has twice been named Big South Coach of the Year (2018, 2021). Campbell has reached three NCAA Regionals and won four NCAA tournament games. Has won the Big South regular season three times (2018, 2019, 2021) and the Big South Tournament twice (2018, 2019). Nine Camels have been selected in the MLB Draft, and twelve have signed professional contracts with MLB organizations.
Donny Harrel enters his 13th year at Seattle University in 2021-22 as the architect of the reborn baseball program. During that time, Harrel has seen several former players move to the next level. Since the program’s return in 2010, 20 Redhawks have signed professional contacts including 11 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft picks. Three different Redhawks appeared in MLB during the 2021 season: Tarik Skubal, Eric Yardley, and Janson Junk. The 2016 season was one for the record books as Harrel led the Redhawks to the program’s first regular season conference title, winning the WAC in the regular season finale at Sacramento State. For the third straight season, the team improved upon their wins tally and Harrel was named WAC Coach of the Year. Previous to coaching at Seattle U, Harrel was an assistant baseball coach at the University of Washington for four years. Before coming to Seattle, Harrel was an assistant coach at Oregon State during the 2003-04 season. His head coaching experience comes from seven seasons at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., where he compiled a 220-90 record and led the team to the NWAACC championship in 1999. Named NWAACC Southern Division Coach of the Year four times, he also led fundraising efforts to build a field, improve other facilities, buy equipment, and increase scholarship opportunities.
DALLAS BAPTIST UNIVERSITY
Dan Heefner enters his 18th season with the DBU Baseball team and 15th year as the Patriots’ head coach. A two-time Missouri Valley Conference Dan Callahan Coach of the Year (2016 & 2021) and a two-time recipient of the American Baseball Coaches Association Midwest Region Coach of the Year (2008 & 2011), Heefner has guided the DBU Baseball program to the NCAA postseason 10 times, including nine of the last 10 years. Under Heefner’s leadership, the Patriots are currently the only team in the nation to post seven consecutive 40-win seasons and are one of just six teams in college baseball to reach the NCAA Regionals each of the past seven years. In 14 seasons at the helm, Heefner owns a career record of 526-271 and his .660 win percentage ranks 10th-best among all active NCAA Division I coaches. Dating back to the 2015 season when the Patriots hosted the Dallas Regional, Heefner has guided DBU to 270 victories, a mark that ranks as the fifth-highest win total among the nation’s 302 NCAA Division I baseball programs. Since 2015, DBU is 5th in wins with 270. Trailing only Florida (293), Louisville (287), Vanderbilt (286) and LSU (279).
Travis Jewett is in his sixth season as the Tulane University baseball head coach. In his previous five seasons, Jewett has tallied a 130-116 record, including a 51-46 conference mark.Since beginning his tenure at Tulane in 2017, Jewett has coached two American Athletic Conference Players of the Year, eight all-conference players and 12 Major League Baseball draft picks Jewett is the program’s 24th head coach but just the fifth head coach to lead the Green Wave since 1967, joining Milt Retif (1967-74), Joe Brockhoff (1975-93), Rick Jones (1994-2014) and David Pierce (2015-16). Jewett led the Green Wave to a 31-24 mark in 2021, including a second place finish in the American Athletic Conference. In 2020, he guided the Green Wave to a 15-2 mark during the 2020 campaign – Tulane’s best start to a season since 1972. Tulane’s 15 wins at the end of the shortened season were tied for the most in the American Athletic Conference. The Green Wave also established a strong home field advantage, as it posted an 11-1 record Uptown. Tulane finished the year ranked No. 20 in the D1Baseball poll and also earned national rankings in the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball polls. Under Jewett’s direction, Tulane led the AAC in 11 statistical categories, including doubles, triples, runs scored and shutouts. In addition, Tulane had five players with a batting average of .300-or-better. In 2019, Tulane won 30 games for the first time since 2016 and the 35th time in program history. The Green Wave finished the year third in the AAC, their highest finish since 2016. Under Jewett’s watchful eye, the Tulane offense produced offensive numbers that rank in the top 10 all time in four different categories.
JSERRA CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL
Coach Brett Kay has lifted the JSerra Baseball program to the top of the Trinity League, arguably the best prep circuit in the country. Entering his 15th season, the Lions will be seeking another Trinity League title. Coach Kay’s program has been ranked among the nation’s top 10 in three of the last six seasons and is annually listed among Orange County’s top teams. No moment may have been more significant for JSerra than Day 1 of the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft when three-time Trinity League MVP Royce Lewis was selected as the #1 overall pick by the Minnesota Twins. It also marked the first time in Orange County history that a high school player from the region went first overall. Under Coach Kay’s leadership, the Lions have captured the school’s first four Trinity League baseball titles (2009 & 2014-16) while qualifying for CIF 11 times in his 13 seasons at the helm. The three consecutive league crowns were unprecedented in the Trinity League. All told, the 2009 Orange County Coach of the Year has steered the program to a .639 winning percentage (247-138-1). Under his watch, the Lions have posted six 20-win campaigns, including a school-record 27 victories in each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. With JSerra’s ascension to the national stage, the program hosts the annual Boras Classic, which features some of the top high school baseball teams in the country. Additionally, Coach Kay was named as a head coach at the Perfect Game All-American Game in 2014 and served as an assistant coach for the West each of the last five seasons.
Rainey is entering his 29th season as the head baseball coach at Adrian College in 2022 with a career record of 732-436. Under Rainey’s leadership, Adrian’s baseball program has risen to national prominence and has become a perennial contender for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship. Adrian entered the 2020 season nationally-ranked by both major polls in NCAA Division III and featured D3baseball.com Preseason All-American Gunner Rainey. But the Bulldogs couldn’t complete their full schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic that canceled all NCAA Championships in the spring. The 2019 campaign saw Adrian extend its MIAA record of 11 conference championships in a row with a 24-4 record in MIAA play and the Bulldogs won the MIAA Tournament for the seventh time since it was introduced in 2012. The Bulldogs finished 37-9 overall and No. 25 in the final American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper national rankings. Adrian played host to the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional for the second year in a row and third time since 2009, and were the regional runner-up for the first time in five years The team established or tied school records for regular season wins (AC also had 32 in 2012), overall victories (2012 squad also had 37), fewest losses in a 40-game season and best winning percentage (.804). In addition, Adrian had its fewest losses since going 12-8 in 1975. Career record of 695-427. He is the winningest coach in MIAA history.
Will be entering his third season with Lenoir-Rhyne, after posting records of 15-11 in 2020 and 23-18 in 2021. Ramirez served as the head coach at Illinois-Springfield for 6 seasons, where he posted a record of 199-122-1. His career record is 237-151-1. At Illinois-Springfield, he led the team to the NCAA regional in 2018 (47-9) and NCAA super regional in 2019 (41-17-1). He also had his team ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation in 2018. His time also included a 29-game winning streak. Has has coached 34 all-conference players, including 15 first team selections. He has had 10 players named All-Region and four garner All-American status. In 2018, his team boasted the best offense in the country, leading Division II with 1.86 home runs per game, a .581 slugging percentage and 9.4 runs per game. On top of his National Coach of the Year, Ramirez was awarded Conference and Regional Coach of the Year honors. Coached Cole Taylor who went on to sign with the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, becoming the first UIS player to sign with an MLB-affiliated organization.
In eight seasons at the helm of the Southeastern Louisiana baseball program, Matt Riser has pushed the Lions to new heights, compiling a record of 265-166. Southeastern has become one of the Southland Conference’s premier teams, earning three NCAA Tournament berths and a pair of Southland Conference titles since 2014. Named the 19th head coach in the history of the Southeastern baseball program at the age of 29, Riser began his career as one of the youngest head coaches at the NCAA Division I level and was recently recognized by Baseball America as one of the nation’s top coaches under the age of 40. The Lions’ success under Riser has garnered national recognition for Southeastern, leading to the program’s first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament (2016), first preseason national ranking (2017) and a Top 25 ranking during the 2018 season. Southeastern’s three NCAA appearances since 2014 place Riser third all-time in Southland history. With 233 wins over the course of his first seven seasons, and back-to-back 40-win seasons (2015-16), Riser’s overall winning percentage (.618) ranks ninth in Southland history. Record-breaking performances have been achieved through an air of remarkable consistency, including record-setting attendance from 2015-18. An average of 1,071 fans passed through the gate of Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field in 2015, the first time in program history the per game average topped 1,000. It increased to 1,126 in 2016, followed by 1,210 in 2017. Attendance increased by more than 100 fans per game in 2018, ranking 55th nationally with an average crowd of 1,317. All four figures led the Southland Conference. In 12 total seasons at Southeastern, Riser has coached 16 All-Americans, including seven Freshman All-Americans and a trio of Academic All-Americans, the National Stopper of the Year, the nation’s leading hitter and 10 Academic All-District players. Four have been named the Southland Conference Player of the Year, two each have been named Southland Relief Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year, and one was named both Southland Pitcher of the Year and Louisiana Pitcher of the Year. Twenty-four players have been drafted, including 17 in the past six seasons.