College of Charleston pitching coach Matt Heath was promoted to head baseball coach on June 22, 2015.
“Matt Heath is an outstanding leader,” CofC Director of Athletics Joe Hull said. “When Matt was our hitting coach, CofC had a fantastic offense and led the nation in several offensive categories. Our pitching performance has been equally as remarkable. As a leader, he strives to help our team become better players, better students and better men. We are thrilled to introduce Matt Heath as our new head coach.”
Having served two coaching stints with the program under former head coaches John Pawlowski (2006-08) and Monte Lee (2011-15), Heath boasts an impressive track record of coaching – enhanced by his professional experience as a player and scout.
One of the rare coaches in the country who has coached both hitting and pitching and had success on both sides of the ball, Heath has learned from the best in the game having played for two college coaches that have won a total of seven national championship titles in legendary LSU head coach Skip Bertman (5) and former Florida head coach Andy Lopez (2).
“Our baseball program is in terrific shape,” Hull said. “Maintaining continuity by hiring one of our terrific assistant coaches is the best way to continue and enhance our program.”
Heath, 36, recently completed his fifth year as CofC’s pitching coach developing a talented rotation that has compiled a cumulative ERA of 3.56 over the past five years. During the 2015 season, the Cougars achieved their second-highest national ranking (No. 13), won the regular-season CAA Championship title and made their third NCAA Regional appearance in the last four years.
In all, Heath has coached a National Freshman Pitcher of the Year, a consensus All-American, two Freshman All-Americans, a SoCon Pitcher of the Year, a CAA Pitcher of the Year and 13 all-conference pitchers. In addition, the CofC pitching staff led the Southern Conference in ERA in 2012 and 2013, and then set a new school record with an ERA of 2.73 in 2014, which ranked No. 18 in the nation. This past season, CofC led the CAA in ERA, shutouts, strikeout-to-walk ratio, WHIP and walks allowed per nine innings.
Among Heath’s pupils was 2015 consensus All-American Taylor Clarke, who led the pitching staff with one of the most decorated campaigns in program history. He tied for the national lead with 13 victories amassing a 13-1 record in 16 starts. Clarke boasted an impressive 1.73 ERA with opponents batting just .185 against him. Over the course of the year, he fanned a school-record 143 strikeouts to rank third in the nation, while limiting himself to just 14 walks for a 10.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the fourth-best in the country. Clarke became CofC’s highest-ever draft pick selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks as the first pick in the third round (76th pick overall).
Heath was also responsible for the compelling transformation of Brandon Glazer from an every-day right fielder in 2014, to becoming the program’s ninth 10-game winner and an All-CAA Firs Team selection in 2015. With only 3.1 innings pitched under his belt, he began the year out of the bullpen, making five relief appearances before making his first career start in a midweek game against USC Upstate. Just over two weeks later, he made a weekend start at James Madison in CAA play, and from there cemented his role as the Cougars’ No. 2 starter. After the JMU game, Glazer went at least six innings in each of his nine remaining starts, six of which were quality starts. He finished the year with 49 strikeouts against just 11 walks in 88.2 innings of work. Glazer signed a professional contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
Also during the 2015 season, Heath developed the true-freshman arms of Carter Love, an All-CAA Second Team and CAA All-Rookie Team honoree, and Will Detwiler, who both made immediate impacts on the mound. Both freshman pitchers turned in sub-two ERAs on the year, and proved to be reliable pitchers for the Cougars.
In 2014, CofC’s pitching staff helped carry the Cougars to one of the best seasons ever in program history. Charleston advanced to the NCAA Lubbock Super Regional behind a phenomenal weekend rotation made up of a redshirt-sophomore and two true freshmen. CofC broke a number of school records in ERA (2.73), opposing batting average (.224), walks per nine innings (2.55), WHIP (1.10) and tied the school record for saves (20). CofC’s ERA ranked No. 18 in the nation, while the WHIP ranked seventh and CofC’s strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.89 ranked No. 9 in the country.
In eight postseason games against the nation’s second-best offense (William & Mary), the 2014 SEC Champions (No. 8 Florida), and the Big 12’s top offense (No. 10 Texas Tech), CofC’s pitching staff posted an ERA of 1.90 with 44 strikeouts against just 14 walks.
2014’s success was spearheaded by NCBWA Freshman Pitcher of the Year Bailey Ober, who finished third in the CofC record books with a 1.53 ERA, while setting new school records in opposing batting average (.192) and WHIP (0.86). Ober’s WHIP ranked eighth-best in the nation, while his ERA led all freshmen pitchers. Ober teamed with Clarke to become the first pair of 10-game winners on the same team in school history. Freshman Tyler Thornton finished second in school history with a WHIP of 1.00 to go with crucial wins in the CAA and Regional title games. Senior Michael Hanzlik led the bullpen with a school-record 16 saves, which ranked eighth in the country.
The 2013 pitching corps saw continued success despite losing over half the staff from the 2012 season to the pro ranks. They led the SoCon for the second-straight year in ERA (4.20), batting average against (.264) and had the lowest number of walks with 167. The staff finished No. 21 in the nation with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.63. Senior starter Jake Zokan was drafted in the ninth round by the Seattle Mariners, while senior Matt Pegler earned preseason All-America honors.
The 2012 season showcased one of the top three pitching staffs in program history. Four pitchers signed professional contracts after the season with Christian Powell winning the SoCon Pitcher of the Year award. Matt Pegler and Kyle Owings joined Powell on the all-conference squad as the staff posted the second-lowest batting average against in league history (.241) while ranking nationally in ERA (26th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (17th) and strikeouts per nine innings (17th).
Heath initially came to Charleston in 2006 after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee, Fla. In his first stint with the Cougars, he worked primarily with the hitters and CofC excelled under his guidance. The offense was ranked nationally in numerous categories and broke multiple school and conference records.
After two years in the Lowcountry, Heath accepted an assistant coaching position at Auburn. There, he worked with hitters, fielders and catchers leading the Tigers to national rankings in several categories and breaking numerous school records during the 2009 season.
Heath later scouted for the Houston Astros covering the North Florida area, before returning to the College of Charleston on Lee’s staff for the 2011 season.
A former prep star who was named North Florida Player of the Year out of Fernandina Beach High School in his hometown of Fernandina Beach, Fla., Heath went on to play at the University of Florida for two years. He later transferred to LSU, where he was a two-time All-SEC Tournament selection, making the team as a catcher in 2001 and playing in the outfield the next season. In 2002, he led LSU in home runs and runs scored, and was also selected to the All-Tournament Team at the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.
Heath graduated from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in general studies in 2002 and later signed a pro contract and played for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization for two seasons. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have one daughter, Everett “EB” (2), and one son, Hagan (10 months).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT MATT HEATH
“The College of Charleston could not have made a better hire than Matt Heath. He is the best baseball guy that I know and is an excellent developer of talent. He is a tireless worker and a tireless recruiter. He will make everybody around him better and will lead the College of Charleston to many more championships. He is a man built on his principles and a family man as well. I could not be happier for one of my best friends in this business and for my alma mater.” – Clemson Head Coach and Former CofC Head Coach Monte Lee
“Matt was a great player for us at LSU and always showed the desire that he wanted to learn more about the game of baseball. I’m not surprised that he’s a head coach now having put in the time and hard work as an assistant during his coaching career. I believe he will do a really good job of following Monte (Lee) and continuing to lead the College of Charleston to more success.” – Legendary LSU Head Coach Skip Bertman
“The College of Charleston has made a solid choice in hiring Matt Heath. He was a tremendous young man when he played for me at Florida and I’ve been able to watch him continue to grow in our profession. He continues to climb up the ladder and it wouldn’t shock me that he is very successful there. I’m really happy for the College of Charleston and Matt Heath.” – Former Arizona and Florida Head Coach Andy Lopez
“The College of Charleston won’t miss a beat at all with this hire. As a former player, and now coach, Matt is not afraid of hard work and has paid his dues for this opportunity. He is going to devote all of his time to the program and it will be a seamless transition for everyone. He really enjoys winning and that’s part of the reason why the program has been so successful over the years. This is well deserved and I am very proud of him.” – North Florida Head Coach and Former LSU Head Coach Smoke Laval
“The College of Charleston couldn’t have picked a better person to become our program’s next head baseball coach. Coach Heath definitely deserved the job and I am grateful that he helped me become a better ball player and person.” – 2015 Consensus All-American, CAA Pitcher of the Year and MLB Third-Round Draft Pick Taylor Clarke
“Coach Heath is a great hire for our program. He holds a certain expectation for all of us players – one that pushes us to become better players on the field and better men off the field. I’m really excited for next season under Coach Heath and can’t wait to get out there with the guys.” – 2014 NCBWA National Freshman Pitcher of the Year and CofC rising sophomore Bailey Ober
The Heath Family: Matt, Everett, Elizabeth and Hagan.