Scott Stricklin recently completed his fifth season as the Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach at the University of Georgia.
Since arriving at UGA, Stricklin, 46, has created an atmosphere of excitement around the program, starting with the current student-athletes, extending to former lettermen and to Georgia baseball fans around the state. He has organized numerous lettermen functions to help reunite former players and steered the $12 million Foley Field Revival project that was completed prior to the 2015 season. He has engaged the fan base with the annual First Pitch banquets featuring Hall of Famers John Smoltz, Phil Niekro and Chipper Jones and most recently Bulldog legend and Major Leaguer Gordon Beckham and Atlanta Braves standout Jeff Francoeur.
Georgia's recruiting classes have steadily improved under Stricklin, according to Perfect Game USA national rankings. In fact, the class that made its debut in 2017 was ranked No. 3 nationally. Additionally, the Bulldogs have excelled in the classroom, posting a 3.08 GPA for the fall semester of 2016 and then 19 Bulldogs made the 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll.
The 2018 campaign saw Georgia return to prominence as a regular in the Top 25 rankings, earning a top eight national seed and playing host to an NCAA Regional for the first time in a decade. After being picked to finish fifth in the Eastern Division, Georgia posted an overall record of 39-21 and its 18-12 SEC mark tied for the second best in the league. The Bulldogs would reach the finals of the NCAA Athens Regional and set four school records (.979 fielding percentage, holding opponents to a .236 batting average, 532 strikeouts by the pitching staff and seven grand slams by the offense). Three Bulldogs earned All-America honors, four made the All-SEC squad, 21 made the SEC Academic Honor Roll and three were selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. With seven starting position players and a majority of the pitching staff returning, the 2019 season could be even better.
The 2017 season saw the Bulldogs advance to the SEC Tournament after an impressive finish to the regular season, going 8-3 over the final 11 games. During this stretch, the Bulldogs claimed a road series over then No. 4 Kentucky, captured a series over No. 6 Miss. State and then won another road series over No. 30 South Carolina. It marked the first time since 2001 that Georgia tallied three consecutive SEC series wins over ranked teams. Georgia started as many as six freshmen during the year and 10 newcomers saw action on the mound as the Bulldog ended the year with a 25-32 record.
Stricklin helped organize the first game open to the public at SunTrust Park to benefit Children's Healthcare of Atlanta as the Bulldogs faced Missouri on April 8. The crowd of 33,025 at SunTrust was the second biggest in college baseball history. A month later, Georgia returned to SunTrust for the 15th annual Spring Baseball Classic For Kids and defeated Georgia Tech in front of nearly 24,000 to sweep the season series for the first time since 1984.
In 2016, Georgia endured a school-record 22-game stretch against ranked opponents, going 8-14 as it concluded the regular season with the nation's toughest rated schedule. Overall, Georgia went 27-30 and advanced to the SEC Tournament. They posted key series wins over then No. 2 South Carolina, marking the highest series victory for Georgia since 2001, and over rival Georgia Tech. Georgia had six players selected in the MLB draft including first round lottery selection Robert Tyler by Colorado. He became the 10th Bulldog in school history to be a first round selection. A total of 15 Bulldogs made the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
In year two of the Stricklin era at Georgia, the Bulldogs showed flashes of potential. Georgia posted its first SEC road sweep since 2009 when it won three straight over Tennessee and then followed that up by claiming its first league series at No. 7 South Carolina since 1994. In non-conference action, Georgia won a series over No. 11 Florida State and swept a two-game set from Clemson for the first time since 2009. In May, Georgia combined on a one-hit shutout of Georgia Tech at Turner Field in front of the largest crowd to see a college baseball regular season game as 18,792 attended the 13th annual Spring Baseball Classic For Kids.
Georgia battled through the 2015 season while missing two members of its starting rotation and two bullpen arms for a significant stretch as injuries hit the pitching staff for the second straight year. Still, the Bulldog staff posted a sub 4.00 ERA for only the second time since 1977, ending the year at 3.96. When at full strength, the bullpen was a formidable group, allowing just one earned run over the final 29.2 innings of 2015. Offensively from 2014 to 2015, the Bulldogs improved their batting average 11 points and increased their home run total from 13 to 40. Georgia had seven players selected in the 2015 MLB draft, which marked the most since 2011.
In Stricklin's first year at Georgia, he led the Bulldogs back to the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Bulldogs increased their overall and SEC win total from 2013 while playing a league-high 29 games against ranked teams in the regular season and did so without their projected No. 1 and No. 3 starters in the rotation and cleanup hitter for much of the year due to injuries. Georgia compiled an 11-game wining streak during the season, which was the longest since 2009, and it captured a series over No. 7 South Carolina, the first over a top 10 team since 2011. Three Bulldogs signed professional contracts after being drafted.
Stricklin, who led his alma mater Kent State to five NCAA Regionals and the 2012 College World Series, was named head baseball coach at the University of Georgia on June 3, 2013.
During a nine-year stint with the Golden Flashes, he posted a 350-188 record, winning five Mid-American Conference regular season crowns and five MAC Tournament titles. Known for developing student-athletes on and off the field, 30 KSU players were selected in the Major League Baseball draft during his tenure, and from 2010-12, the team registered a perfect 1,000 score in the NCAA's Academic Performance Rate (APR) report. KSU was one of only 16 schools in the country to reach this academic accomplishment and the only public institution on the list. Also, the Golden Flashes were honored in Omaha in 2012 for having the highest team Grade Point Average (GPA) of all the eight participants at the College World Series (CWS), owning a 3.09 GPA. For the spring semester of 2013, the KSU baseball team registered a 3.06 GPA.
Stricklin earned his first head coaching job in July of 2004 when he returned to Kent State following three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Georgia Tech under former KSU head coach Danny Hall. Stricklin began his coaching career in 1998 as a volunteer coach for the Yellow Jackets and then spent two years as the pitching coach at Vanderbilt from 2000-01. While at Tech, he landed the consensus No. 1 ranked recruiting class in 2002 as they advanced to the College World Series that year, and they made it to an NCAA Super Regional in 2004 before falling to Georgia in Atlanta. His final recruiting class at Vanderbilt was ranked seventh best by Baseball America. In 2011, he served as an assistant coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
Stricklin directed Kent State to its finest season in school history in 2012 as the Golden Flashes posted a record 47 victories including a 21-game winning streak and their first trip to the CWS. KSU's post season run featured its fourth consecutive MAC Tournament title to go with its first NCAA Regional and Super Regional championships. The Golden Flashes went on the road and won the NCAA Gary (Ind.) Regional and then upset No. 5 national seed Oregon in a Super Regional in Eugene. At the CWS, they eliminated top-ranked Florida and finished tied for fifth. KSU wound up with a final national ranking of No. 5, the highest ranking in team history. For the second year in a row, Stricklin was honored as the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings NCAA Mideast Coach of the Year and the MAC Coach of the Year.
Stricklin, a two-time All-Mid-American Conference catcher, handled pitching staffs that were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in earned run average during his final two playing seasons at KSU. A 23rd round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 1993, he played five seasons of professional baseball and reached the Triple-A level with the Twins.
Stricklin graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in marketing from Kent State in 1995. He and his wife Cheri have three children: daughters Sydney (14) and Keaton (9), and a son, Cale (12).
Scott Stricklin As a Head Coach
Year: Overall Record, (Conference), NCAA Finish
2005: 33-20 (9-10), n/a
2006: 38-19 (17-5), n/a
2007: 33-26 (19-8), NCAA Columbia (Mo.) Regional
2008: 36-21 (16-8), n/a
2009: 43-17 (17-9), NCAA Tempe (Ariz.) Regional
2010: 39-25 (18-9), NCAA Los Angeles (Calif.) Regional
2011: 45-17 (21-5), NCAA Austin (Texas) Regional Finalist
2012: 47-20 (24-3), College World Series (T5th)
2013: 36-23 (20-7), n/a
2014: 26-29-1 (11-18-1), n/a
2015: 26-28 (10-19), n/a
2016: 27-30 (11-19), n/a
2017: 25-32 (11-19), n/a
2018: 39-21 (18-12), NCAA Athens (Ga.) Regional Finalist
Total: 493-328-1 (Overall); 143-140-1 (UGA); 161-64 (MAC), 61-86-1 (SEC)
Stricklin Coaching Career
1998-99: Volunteer Coach, Georgia Tech
2000-01: Asst. Coach/Pitching, Vanderbilt
2002-04: Asst. Coach/Hitters/Catchers/Recruiting Coordinator, Georgia Tech
2005-13: Head Coach, Kent State
2013-present: Ike Cousins Head Baseball Coach, University of Georgia
Kent State: 1991-93, Two-time All-Conference catcher, 23rd Round Draft Pick of Minnesota Twins in 1993
Minor Leagues: Minnesota Twins (1993-95), Atlanta Braves (1996), Tampa Bay (1997, Major League Spring Training in 1998)