Baseball Coaching Staff
Scott Norwood enters his seventh season as head coach at UALR in 2014-15 after the Trojans finished ninth in the Sun Belt just missing the conference tournament due to a tie-breaker. The team finished 25-29 (11-19) with a series sweep of Creighton and a win at No. 30 Oklahoma 11-2.
The 2014 Trojans were led by Ben Crumpton who earned All-Sun Belt first team honors by hitting .324 and finishing in the top-10 nationally in stolen bases, while leading the Sun Belt for the second season in a row. Crumpton broke the all-time career steals record at UALR in the middle of the season while fellow 2014 senior Bryson Thionnet tied the career home run record towards the end of the season. The 2014 team was led by its pitching staff as the team posted the program’s lowest ERA since moving into Gary Hogan Field in 1978. The staff was anchored by a great bullpen that combined for a 3.23 ERA as Tanner Rockwell collected eight saves while posting a 1.59 ERA enroute to being selected to the All-Sun Belt second team as the utility player. The junior also led the Trojans in RBIs and was second in home runs and batting average. At the end of the season shortstop Austin Pfeiffer was drafted in the 27th round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2013 Norwood led the program to just its seventh Sun Belt Tournament appearance. Additionally, the Trojans’ 13 Sun Belt victories in 2013 marked UALR’s second-highest conference win total in program history.
The 2013 UALR squad clinched its seventh SBC Tournament appearance in program history with a 2-1 series win over Arkansas State in the final weekend of the regular season. The two victories no only locked up a spot in the SBC Tournament for the Trojans, but pushed the team ahead of ASU in the final regular season standings. Norwood led the Trojans to a doubleheader sweep of No. 10 Oklahoma on April 16, 2013, marking UALR’s fourth and fifth victories over a top-25 opponent since his arrival in 2009.
UALR ended the 2013 season ranked sixth in the nation in home runs per game (0.98) and tied for eighth in home runs (55), marking the second-straight year the Trojans finished the year ranked in the top-ten nationally in each of the respective categories.
Right-handed pitcher Chance Cleveland earned All-Sun Belt honors for the second-straight season in 2013, joining Derin McMains (2000-01) as the only other two-time All-SBC selection in program history. Cleveland was named to the All-SBC Second Team following a senior season that saw him total 90 strikeouts and post a 3.59 ERA over 100.1 innings pitched.
UALR posted one of the greatest offensive seasons in school history in 2012. On the heels of the program’s 2011 NCAA Regional appearance, the 2012 Trojans ranked in the top-10 nationally in four offensive categories, while setting school records for home runs and triples in a season.
Led by two-time All-American Sean Bignall, the Trojans earned an NCAA statistical championship in 2012 by tying Eastern Kentucky for the national lead in home runs per game (1.22). The Trojans finished second nationally with 66 home runs, after ending the regular season tied with Florida for first place, while ranking third in slugging percentage (.477) and sixth in scoring (7.4 runs per game). UALR ranked in the top-25 in the country in a total of eight offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.395) and stolen bases per game (1.65), where it finished 14th and 20th, respectively.
Bignall was the catalyst for UALR’s offensive outburst, setting new UALR single-season records for home runs (18), total bases (149) and runs scored (60). He was named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award, which are given annually to the nation’s top player, and received Third Team All-America accolades from both Louisville Slugger and the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings. He was one of a school-record five players to receive All-Sun Belt Conference accolades in 2012, three of which also garnered a spot on the ABCA All-South Central Region Team.
UALR reached unprecedented heights in Norwood’s third season as head coach, as the Trojans won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship to earn the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional appearance. The 2011 Trojans made history by becoming the first No. 8 seed in conference history to win the Sun Belt Championship, capped off by a 7-6 victory over Florida International in the title game.
Making the program’s first Sun Belt Tournament appearance since 2003 wasn’t enough for the 2011 Trojans, as Norwood guided UALR to a 4-0 mark in Monroe, La. to become the first coach in school history to lead the baseball program to a conference title and an NCAA Regional berth. UALR opened the 2011 Sun Belt Tournament with a bang by knocking off top-seeded Troy, 4-2, in 10 innings. The victory over Troy, ranked No. 21 at the time, marked just the second time since 1995 that the lowest-seeded team defeated the top team in the opening round.
Senior Garret Graziano went 2-0 with one save and a 1.59 earned run average over three appearances at the SBC Tournament to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Greg Garcia, Travis Henke and Casey McCollum. Garcia’s performance was also recognized by CollegeBaseball360.com, as he was named the Primetime Player of the Week.
UALR was sent to Corvallis, Ore. for its first-ever NCAA Regional appearance, and opened with a bout against No. 1-seeded Oregon State. The Trojans held a 4-2 lead over the No. 15 Beavers after five innings, but Oregon State rallied for a 7-4 victory at Goss Stadium. UALR’s historic season came to an end the following day as the Trojans dropped a 7-3 decision to Georgia in an elimination game. The Trojans scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to rally from a 5-0 hole, but the Bulldogs held UALR to two hits over the final four innings to bring the Trojans’ season to an end. Second baseman Jason Houston was named to the All-Region Team in Corvallis, and also earned Capital One Academic All-District VI Second Team accolades.
The success of the 2011 Trojans continued the positive strides the program has made since Norwood took over prior to the 2009 season. Inheriting a team that went 16-32 the year prior to his arrival, Norwood’s second season saw the Trojans end the year as the NCAA’s 11th most improved team in the country by posting the program’s highest win total since 2003 and the highest winning percentage since 2000.
After going 16-34 in his first season at UALR, Norwood guided the Trojans to a 29-25 record in 2010, led by All-Sun Belt performers Adam Champion and Tyson Parks. The 11-game improvement (measured by adding the difference in victories to the difference in losses between the two seasons, then dividing by two) placed UALR 11th nationally. In addition to its 11-game turnaround, UALR improved its RPI ranking by nearly 100 points in Norwood’s second season, climbing from a 233 ranking in 2009 to a 140 ranking in 2010.
UALR’s .537 winning percentage was the program’s highest since 2000, while the 29 victories were the most by a Trojan squad since 2003. UALR’s achievements in 2010 extended beyond the field, as Norwood’s squad was given the Sun Belt Conference’s Academic Award for having the highest team GPA in the league.
The Trojans got off to a fast start in 2010, running out to a 10-2 record that allowed them to match the 1996 squad as the fastest teams to reach 10 wins in school history. On April 7, UALR defeated No. 15 Ole Miss, 9-6, in Oxford, Miss. It was the first top-25 win under Norwood, and the program’s first victory over an SEC school since defeating Mississippi State on March 4, 2008 in Starkville, Miss.
UALR came on strong down the stretch in 2010, closing out the year by winning its final three Sun Belt Conference series (WKU, ULM and Arkansas State) on its way to a 7-3 mark over the final 10 games. After a sterling senior season in which he went 7-4 with a 3.11 earned run average (4th in the SBC), Champion was named to the South Central All-Region Team by the American Baseball Coaches Association. The 6-7 left hander was then taken in the 24th Round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
As Norwood enters his sixth season at UALR, the 2008 NCAA Division II ABCA South Central Region Coach of the Year will continue to try and replicate the rebuilding process he perfected at Ouachita Baptist. During his four-year run at OBU, Norwood quickly transformed a program which won a combined 45 games in the five years prior to his arrival, into a national powerhouse – culminating with a runner-up finish at the 2008 NCAA Division II College Baseball World Series.
Norwood inherited an empty cabinet in his first season at UALR, as the Trojans returned just 10 lettermen from the previous year’s squad – only two of which were pitchers. He picked up a victory in his Division I coaching debut as the Trojans defeated Northern Iowa, 5-0, on Feb. 20, 2009. UALR took two-of-three from the Panthers on opening weekend, then opened up Sun Belt Conference play with a series win at Florida Atlantic (2-1). Norwood went on to notch the 300th victory of his coaching career on April 25 as the Trojans downed Houston Baptist, 5-4, at Gary Hogan Field. UALR had two starting pitchers selected in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, as Jake Sullivan was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 22nd Round, and Champion was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 23rd Round.
Prior to taking over at UALR, Norwood compiled a 158-77 record (.672 winning percentage) in four seasons at OBU, including an astounding 101-26 mark over the final two years (.795 pct.). Four days after being tabbed as UALR’s new skipper, Norwood led Ouachita Baptist past No. 1 Delta State in the NCAA South Central Regional championship game to give OBU its first-ever trip to the Division II College Baseball World Series.
OBU finished second at the 2008 Division II College Baseball World Series, losing to Mount Olive in the national championship game, capping off a remarkable season in which Norwood guided the Tigers to a school-record 51 wins.
OBU pitcher Steve Smith, who went 10-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 143 strikeouts, was named honorable mention All-America at season’s end, and received the Most Valuable Player award at the College World Series. He also became the first OBU player chosen in the MLB Draft, when the Cleveland Indians selected him in the 25th round.
In his final two years at OBU, Norwood led the Tigers to a Gulf South Conference West Division championship in 2007 and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional. OBU was ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll in 2007, and ended the 2008 season ranked No. 2 in the country.
In his first season at OBU in 2005, Norwood guided the Tigers to a 26-27 record, which for a program that endured a combined 45 wins over the previous five seasons, marked the school’s most successful season in 32 years. At the time, the 26 wins marked the most victories by the Tigers since joining the Gulf South Conference and the Division II ranks. OBU also earned its first-ever national ranking that year, appearing in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Top 30 for the week of Feb. 21, 2005.
He followed up his inaugural season by leading the Tigers to a 31-24 campaign and the program’s first postseason appearance since joining the Division II ranks in 1995. OBU was ranked in the Top 30 for the second-consecutive year, and finished second in the GSC West Division with a 16-7 conference mark.
The 2007 season was a record-breaking campaign at OBU, as Norwood led the Tigers to 50 wins, including a record 21-game win streak, and the GSC West Division title with an 18-3 league mark. OBU was ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and No. 2 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. The Tigers earned their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Championship Regional and ended the year ranked No. 4 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.
Norwood owns an overall record of 412-289 (.587 winning percentage) in 13 seasons as a head coach. Prior to taking over OBU, Norwood spent three seasons at Sterling (Kan.) College and one year at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.
He has seen 14 of his players sign professional contracts, including Sterling College-product Justin Mallett, who advanced to the Double A level in the Cincinnati Reds organization. His 2007 OBU team featured GSC West Division Player of the Year Jeremy Haworth, and South Central Region Player of the Year Chance Beasley.
Norwood began his coaching career at the University of Indianapolis as an assistant coach under Gary Vaught. In four years as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator, Norwood helped the Greyhounds go from 19 wins in his first season to 39 in his final year, culminating with a berth in the 1998 NCAA Division II Regional.
Following the 1998 season, Norwood accepted the head coaching job at Mercyhurst College, where he guided the Lakers to a 26-19 record after winning just 19 games the year before. After the 1999 season, Norwood decided to leave coaching, and accepted a position as Event Coordinator at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. In his two years working at the RCA Dome, Norwood oversaw numerous conventions and events at the stadium, including all Indianapolis Colts home games for the 2000 and 2001 seasons, and the 2000 NCAA Final Four.
A native of Tulsa, Okla., Norwood graduated from Tulsa Memorial High School in 1984, after leading them to the Oklahoma 5A State Championship. He played two years at Connors State College in Warner, Okla., helping the Cowboys to a fifth-place finish in the NJCAA Division I World Series.
After earning his associate’s degree from Connors State in 1986, Norwood moved on to Oral Roberts University to continue his playing career. He graduated from ORU in 1988 with a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration. Norwood went on to earn his master of arts in curriculum and instruction in 1998 from the University of Indianapolis. He married the former Anne Harper of Arlington, Texas in 2001.
Scott Norwood File
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
Education: Tulsa Memorial HS (1984), Oral Roberts University (1988)
Head Coaching Experience: 13 seasons at four schools
Family: Wife, Anne