Shaun Cole, named the 2012 Collegiate Baseball National Pitching Coach of the Year, enters his fourth season as an assistant coach at Arizona after helping the Wildcats win their fourth national championship and a share of the Pac-12 title in 2012.
Cole, who previously served as the program's director of operations in 2009 before being named pitching coach, also assists in recruiting, team scheduling, travel coordination, and various other duties within the program.
In his three seasons as pitching coach, Cole has guided three of the school's most successful staffs. Wildcat pitchers have won 121 games, tossed 25 complete games and registered 1,324 strikeouts while walks have decreased over each of the last three seasons. With a 3.57 earned run average in 2011 and a 3.70 ERA in 2012, Cole's last two staffs have turned in the lowest season totals at the school since 1978.
In 2012, Cole developed the Wildcats' staff into one of the best in the nation. Led by ace Kurt Heyer, who finished as the national leader with 13 victories, Arizona's starting rotation was rounded out by 11-game winner Konner Wade and eight-game winner James Farris, and not one of the three ever missed a start.
The starting trio combined for a 31-8 record, a 3.30 ERA and 16 complete games on the season. They struck out 291 opposing batters and walked just 85 in 395.3 innings pitched (67 percent of team innings) over 57 total appearances. If the trio were a team, it would have ranked No. 2 nationally in fewest walks per innings pitched (1.94), fourth in strikeout to walk ratio (3.42) and ninth in WHIP (1.18).
To round out the staff, Cole molded a formidable bullpen with veteran Stephen Manthei and a pair of freshmen - Mathew Troupe and Tyler Crawford. The freshmen duo combined for a 7-2 record, a 3.27 earned run average and eight of the team's 10 saves. They struck out 62 and walked 26 over 74.2 innings pitched in 39 appearances. In the postseason, the freshmen tossed 9.0 total innings, and surrendered just one run (1.00 ERA). Troupe earned three victories, including two at the College World Series.
The Wildcats finished 2012 with 48 victories, their most in a single season since 1989. Arizona was a perfect 47-0 when leading or tied after eight (8) innings of games in 2012. The Wildcats were also 46-5 when leading/tied after seven (7) innings, and an equally impressive 46-6 when leading or tied after six (6) innings of play.
Heyer, a sixth round draft choice by the St. Louis Cardinals, became a three-time All-Conference selection and was named a second team All-American by multiple outlets. Wade tossed a pair of complete games in Omaha, including a 4-0 win over UCLA in which he became the first pitcher since 1972 to not walk a batter in a shutout at the College World Series, and was named to the All-Tournament team.
The accomplishments in 2012 were the byproduct of a steady foundation built in Cole's first two seasons with the pitchers. The 2011 club registered a 3.57 team ERA, the lowest mark for a UA staff since 1976.
Cole's 2011 staff featured one of the best starting duos in the nation. Heyer, then a sophomore, and junior Kyle Simon each ranked in the top-10 nationally for innings pitched. Heyer was named a third team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, while Simon became the school's first 10-game winner since 2005. Both were named to the annual All-Pac-10 squad.
Three Wildcat pitchers were selected in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Simon was a fourth-round selection of the Baltimore Orioles, while left-hander Bryce Bandilla was chosen in the fourth round by the San Francisco Giants. Left-hander Matt Chaffee, who led the club with seven saves in 2011, was picked in the 12th round by the Atlanta Braves.
In 2010, Cole was instrumental in the development of a young pitching staff that included 13 underclassmen and featured five freshmen in the top eight of the pitching rotation. Despite the youth and inexperience, Cole guided the staff to a strong season by taking nearly a full run off the team's ERA from 2009 to 2010 (from 5.46 to 4.54). Additionally, UA pitching limited opposing hitters to a .277 batting average, a 16-percentage point decline from the previous season. Strikeouts per game also increased, while walks per game decreased.
The development of the 2010 staff was highlighted by Heyer and Simon, who emerged as the Friday and Saturday starters, respectively. As a true freshman, Heyer was named first team All-Pac-10 and was named a Freshman All-American by several publications. Simon settled into the Saturday slot and won a team-high eight games as a starter and was named an honorable mention All-Conference player.
In January 2009, Cole joined the Arizona program to assist in the daily operations of the baseball program while completing coursework from the University of Washington as he earned his Master of Education degree in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership. For the Wildcats, Cole shadowed Lopez in the development of the pitching staff and served as a liaison between the baseball staff and other UA departments, including academic services, marketing, fundraising, ticket sales and the medical services.
Prior to joining the UA program, Cole held the position of pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. At Edmonds, Cole helped coach the program to the 2008 NWAACC Championship title as he assisted with pitching instruction to develop proper mechanics, arm health and conditioning. Additionally, Cole provided coaching, scouting and administrative assistance to first-year head coach Brad Ditter, the NWAACC Coach of the Year.
In 2006, Cole spent six months assisting the General Manager for Baseball Operations with the Seattle Mariners Triple-A affiliate. Cole's focus was with the baseball operations for the Tacoma Rainiers, while also developing relationships with the coaching staff and providing left-handed batting practice. Further, Cole spent time learning from pitching coach Dwight Bernard on coaching, developing and evaluating pitchers.
Cole received his Bachelor of Arts degree in education in 2004 from William Penn University in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he also earned a baseball scholarship to play for the nationally-ranked Statesmen. Previously, Cole attended Pierce College (Wash.) where he excelled as a left-handed pitcher.