Tracy Smith is in his eighth season as Indiana baseball's head coach. In 2009, he led the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten Tournament title since 1996 and the second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. 'Skip' and his Hoosiers returned to the Big Ten Tourney Finals again in 2012.
In the Tracy Smith era, IU has seen its first two multi-time All-Americans (Josh Phegley, 2008-09; Alex Dickerson, 2010-11), first All-American pitcher (Eric Arnett, 2009) and seven of the school's nine Freshman All-Americans. Coach Smith has mentored more All-Americans in the past five seasons than the Hoosiers had in the previous 62 years combined. At least one of Coach Smith's freshmen each season has been named an All-American during that five-year stretch, including a pair of rookies in both 2011 and 2012 (Dustin DeMuth/Joey DeNato - 2011; Kyle Schwarber/Sam Travis - 2012).
Nine different Hoosiers have earned First Team All-Big Ten honors under the tutelage of Smith. The list includes: Alex Dickerson, Matt Bashore, Andrew Means, Josh Phegley, Eric Arnett, Kipp Schutz, Josh Lyon, Joey DeNato (the only freshman in the conference to make first team in 2011) and Jonny Hoffman.
Smith's student-athletes have swept the conference's end of the year awards, capturing the Player, Pitcher and Freshman of the Year Awards. Alex Dickerson followed up his Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor in 2009 by taking league MVP accolades the following season. Sam Travis became the second Hoosier to earn the Freshman of the Year award last season while Eric Arnett was tabbed B1G Pitcher of the Year in 2009.
Last season saw the return of Indiana to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game after a 16-8 conference mark earned the Cream and Crimson a No. 2 seed in the conference tourney. A wild and crazy two-day stretch in Columbus, Ohio ultimately ended with the Hoosiers advancing to their second league finals in four seasons.
The 2010 season will go down in the annals as a 28-27 mark for IU, but it was far more successful than the record indicated. With seven underclassmen moving onto the pros and having their number one starter go down in the first game of the season, the Hoosiers came within one victory of finishing second in the conference, posted their third straight winning season and advanced to the Big Ten Tournament for the third consecutive year - the first time in school history that Indiana had accomplished that feat.
At the center of the squad was unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year and First Team All-American Alex Dickerson, who hit 24 home runs - the second-highest total in school history and the seventh-most nationally in 2010. Dickerson was one of four Hoosiers to reach double digits in homers (Michael Earley, Josh Lyon and Micah Johnson were the others) as the team set a school record with 85 longballs on the season. IU was 13th nationally in home runs per game a season ago.
In his 16 years as a head coach, Smith has seen 46 of his players chosen in the MLB Draft. Seventeen of those players have been selected in the top 10 rounds, including three first-round picks, one second-round pick, three third-round picks and three fifth-round selections. Two pitchers who threw for Smith at Miami University appeared in the big leagues in 2010 - Graham Taylor (Florida) and John Ely (L.A. Dodgers), with Ely making 14 starts for the Dodgers in his rookie season.
Smith has recruited top talent to Bloomington, as eight players that have signed on to join the Hoosiers in his tenure have been drafted by the majors out of high school. Two current Hoosiers - Ryan Halstead (36th, Houston) and Sam Travis (40th, Cincinnati) - were drafted by MLB teams out of high school before electing to come to IU. Additionally, Joey DeNato was both named High School All-Americans prior to donning the Cream and Crimson.
The 2009 campaign was the culmination of Smith's first four years in Bloomington, as Indiana dominated the Big Ten Tournament to win its first conference title in 13 years. During the regular season, IU finished with a 16-7 (.696) record in conference play to post its highest Big Ten winning percentage since 1939 (7-3, .700). Following the team's NCAA Tournament appearance, the Hoosiers became the only team in the nation to have three players taken in the top 50 of the MLB Draft.
After the regular season, IU received a record eight All-Big Ten honorees, including three players on the first team. Eric Arnett earned co-Pitcher of the Year honors from the conference, while designated hitter Dickerson was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Each player is the first IU student-athlete to win his respective award in program history. Catcher Josh Phegley earned first team all-conference honors for the second straight year, the first Hoosier to do so since Vasili Spanos in 2002-03.
The Hoosiers saw their successes reflected in the 2009 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Eric Arnett (26th overall, Milwaukee Brewers) became IU's first player to be selected in the first round since Jim DeNeff was chosen eighth overall by the California Angels in 1966. Josh Phegley (38th overall, Chicago White Sox) and Matt Bashore (46th, Minnesota Twins) joined Arnett in being selected by the end of the supplemental first round. Impressively, the three players showed tremendous development at the college level, as none of the three had been drafted out of high school. In all, the Hoosiers had seven players drafted from the 2009 team, a school record.
The 2008 season was a significant upward turn for the Hoosiers, as Indiana made its first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2004 by rallying for a sixth-place finish in the regular season. IU then eliminated Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State at the conference tournament before falling in the semifinals to Purdue. The Hoosiers went 11-4 over their final 15 conference games, including a series split with first-place Michigan and three wins over third-place Purdue.
In 2007, Smith led one of the youngest teams in the country, with 19 freshmen and six sophomores, to a 19-win season. Smith posted a 22-34 record in his first season in Bloomington. After a slow start, Indiana came on strong toward the end of the season in 2006. IU won 11 of its final 18 non-conference games and garnered its best conference record in three seasons.
Smith is no stranger to Bloomington as he spent two seasons (1995-96) as pitching coach at IU. In Smith's final season, the Hoosiers boasted the lowest ERA in the Big Ten, won the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the 1996 NCAA Midwest Regional, where they picked up their first-ever win in an NCAA Tournament game. All four of Indiana's primary starters saw significant drops in their ERA from 1995 to 1996, and three of the four saw their ERAs drop more than two runs. Three of Smith's pitchers were chosen in the Major League Draft in 1996.
Prior to returning to Bloomington, Smith completely changed the fortunes of Miami University after inheriting a 12-40 ballclub. The RedHawks reached the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament nine times, including six championship game appearances and the 2000 and 2005 titles. Smith amassed a 317-220-1 (.590) record with Miami and a MAC regular-season mark of 152-95 (.615). He led the RedHawks to eight straight 30-win seasons, marking only the second time the program had accomplished that feat, and he finished his career in Oxford third on the school's all-time wins list.
Smith led the RedHawks to a 45-18 (.714) mark in 2005, his second 40-win season (40 wins in 2000), and matched the school record for victories in a season. Miami's .714 mark was the 12th-best winning percentage in the nation. The RedHawks captured the MAC regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, their second trip to the postseason under Smith's tutelage, where it set an NCAA Regional record with 35 runs in a 35-8 victory over Quinnipiac.
In 2005, the RedHawks ranked among the nation's top 20 in ERA (16th, 3.33), triples per game (19th, 0.38) and stolen bases per game (16th, 2.08). In addition, two-sport athlete and former Carolina Panther Ryne Robinson ranked among the top 20 in the nation in triples and stolen bases. Miami finished the season with a 16-6 mark on the road, the fifth-best record away from home in the NCAA.
Smith also played an instrumental part in Miami's facility fundraising effort. In 2002, the RedHawks opened a new chapter in their tradition-rich history with the debut of Stanley G. McKie Field at Joseph P. Hayden Jr. Park. McKie Field boasts a fully operational press box, a 12-seat luxury suite, two heated dugouts with bathrooms, the Smokey Alston luxury room, two separate bullpens from the field, year-round lights and an indoor hitting facility in left-field foul territory.
The Kentland, Ind., native did it again here in Bloomington. In August 2011, the IU Board of Trustees approved construction of a new baseball and softball complex to be located on the north edge of the IU Bloomington athletics campus near the State Road 45/46 Bypass. Private donations and athletic department funds will fund the project. The IU Foundation will invest and administer Kaufman's gift. Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf Architects of Indianapolis has designed the complex.
Highlights of the new stadium include new locker rooms and dugouts, indoor/outdoor hitting cages, a turf field, a press box, a scoreboard, a lighting and sound system, and hospitality suites. The complex will also feature ample parking, an entry plaza, a picnic area, concessions and restrooms for fans.
Construction began in the spring of 2012 with completion scheduled in time for the 2013 home opener. The new $19.8 million complex will replace Sembower Field and the IU Softball Field, which are on Fee Lane adjacent to Foster Residence Center.
After capturing the program's first outright regular-season title in 22 years, Miami notched a program-record eight players on the 2005 all-conference teams, breaking the record of six RedHawks that earned selections in 2003. Additionally, Smith added 2005 MAC Coach of the Year honors to his impressive resume. During Smith's era, Miami players picked up 16 All-MAC first-team honors and collected five All-America nods. In addition, 19 student-athletes secured Academic All-MAC honors, including 2000 & 2001 Verizon Academic All-Americans Tom Yost and Luke Reinhart.
The 2000 Ohio College Coach of the Year, Smith directed that season's squad to its first MAC Tournament Championship since 1983. The RedHawks also went on to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1983, playing in the Arizona State Regional, where they notched a victory over Creighton.
A four-year letterwinner from 1985 through 1988, Smith was a shortstop, third baseman and pitcher for the RedHawks. In 1988, Smith captained the team to a 37-22 mark, the sixth-highest single-season win total in Miami baseball history. After graduation, Smith spent three seasons as a minor league pitcher and infielder in the Chicago Cubs' organization from 1988-1990.
Smith began his coaching career in 1990 as head coach at the Miami University-Middletown campus. In the fall of 1992, Smith participated in the Major League Scouting Bureau's Professional Scout School as a representative of the Chicago Cubs.
During the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Smith was an assistant coach at Miami. Over that span, Smith served as hitting instructor and worked with infielders and outfielders before his first stint at IU. He earned his bachelor's degree in education from Miami in 1989 and completed a master's degree in sport organization from Miami in 1992.
Tracy and his wife, Jaime, reside in Bloomington with their three sons, Casey, Ty and Jack. Casey is a redshirt junior on the IU baseball team while Ty will be a freshman for the Hoosier Football team for the 2013 season.