For 12 years, D1Baseball.com has been the top website for college baseball coaches, players and fans.
D1Baseball.com provides scores, schedules, standings and other news for all of the NCAA Division I baseball teams in the country.
And it gives out awards, too.
One of the awards is the Assistant Coach of the Year and it was given to Missouri State pitching coach and Granite City South High graduate Paul Evans. Evans earned his award July 17 after guiding a dominant Missouri State pitching staff that helped the Bears turn in one of their best seasons in school history in 2015.
“I’m pretty humbled and I’m pretty honored by it all,” Evans said.
Missouri State won a school-record 49 games, captured the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament championships and won the Springfield Regional at the NCAA Tournament.
“We had an older group,” Evans said. “We had talent, but we had veteran guys on the team who knew how to lead. We had a very cohesive team. We had very little problems, if any at all. We had a resilient group and that’s what it takes for someone like ourselves at Missouri State. I don’t think we can be mentioned in the same name as LSU or Florida State or Arizona State and Miami, the schools that are talked about every single year.”
Pitching was one of the keys in the Bears’ successful season. The staff was ranked 12th in the nation in earned run average and it had three All-Americans — juniors Matt Hall and Jon Harris and sophomore Bryan Young.
Hall led the nation in strikeouts with 171, Harris went 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft, and Young finished with a team-record 16 saves.
Missouri State came within a victory of going to the College World Series. The Bears lost in three games to Arkansas — which has Granite City graduate Chad Spanberger on its roster — in the best-of-three Fayetteville Super Regional.
Evans went to the College World Series in 2003, when the Bears played in it for the first time in school history. The pitching coach said the team’s goal every year is to go to Omaha.
“You want to win the conference and you want to get into regional play,” Evans said. “Once you get into regional play, you want to advance to the super regional and take some chances and see if you can get to Omaha.”
The D1Baseball.com Assistant of the Year award is the biggest honor of Evans’ 27-year career at the Springfield, Mo., school. Before becoming Missouri State’s baseball coach in 1989, Evans played baseball at Granite City South High and Southern Illinois University Carbondale and coached at Shawnee Junior College and Rend Lake College. Evans graduated from Granite City South in 1977.
Evans was a pitching coach in the Cape Cod League before heading back to the Midwest to take over duties as the Bears’ pitching coach.
“I really didn’t have any reason to move,” Evans said of Missouri State. “It’s a great community that I work for and appreciate and respect.”
Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor was named D1Baseball.com’s Coach of the Year after leading his team to its first national championship in June. Hall was named first-team All-American pitcher by D1Baseball.com.