Matt Deggs completed his third season as head coach at Sam Houston State in 2017 after taking the helm as the program's eighth head coach on June 27, 2014.
Under his direction, Sam Houston State has made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances while producing the first back-to-back 40-win seasons in Division I program history during 2016 and 2017.
The Bearkats came away with a season to remember in 2017, capturing the program's first ever berth in the NCAA Super Regionals. Sam Houston matched a Division I team record with 44 including three straight against Arizona and Texas Tech to win the NCAA Lubbock Regional and advance to the Tallahassee Supers.
The squad finished nationally ranked in all six polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).
While coming two wins from advancing to the NCAA College World Series, Sam Houston pitching recorded a program-record 522 strikeouts while offensively, the team set a new team best with 28 triples.
The 2017 Bearkats won 12 of 13 games down the stretch entering the NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional. Sam Houston began the season with its first-ever top-25 ranking at No. 23 and reached its highest ranking in team lore following the Lubbock Regional at No. 13.
Sam Houston captured the Southland Conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, running off four-straight victories at the league tournament at Sugar Land's Constellation Field. The team hit .356 (48 of 135) at the event, averaging 9.25 runs per game while the pitching staff posted a 1.32 ERA, limiting opponents to a .167 average.
The Southland Conference Tournament title was the second in as many years and marked the third-consecutive trip to the championship game. Sam Houston was equally as dominant in the midweek, recording six-straight wins -- the most consecutive since 2000 -- including three victories against Houston, and one each against Baylor, Dallas Baptist and Texas A&M. The six wins were among 13 total victories against teams that competed in an NCAA Regional in 2017.
Three Bearkats were selected in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, moving Sam Houston's total to nine in three seasons under Deggs. Sam Houston finished the regular season as one of two teams nationally to rank in the top-25 in both ERA (3.58) and batting average (.305).
Sam Houston finished the 2017 season as the Southland Conference leader in 12 different team categories including finishing third in the country in triples (28), fourth in sac bunts (70), 10th in hits (676), 10th in stolen bases (102) and 20th in runs (443).
Right-handed senior Heath Donica, who became Sam Houston's Division I recorded holder with 109 strikeouts, was named Third-Team All-America while freshman right-hander Hayden Wesneski was named Freshman All-America, marking the second-consecutive season a Sam Houston pitcher was named to the list.
The 2016 Kats captured the Southland Conference regular-season championship and Southland Conference Tournament championship in the same season for the first time in program history. For his efforts, Deggs was named the 2016 Clay Gould Southland Conference Coach of the Year, becoming the third Sam Houston coach to do so. The Bearkats were selected as the three-seed in the Lafayette Regional.
Sam Houston finished 42-22, notching its second 40-plus win season in three years. The Bearkats concluded the Southland Tournament with an RPI of 34, the highest in program history.
The Bearkats posted a 35-8 record over its final 43 games in route to its fourth NCAA Regional in five seasons. Sam Houston concluded the regular season first in league games in stolen bases against (7), stolen base against percentage (.350), second in fielding percentage (.973), second in batting average (.306), second in opponent batting average (.231), second in triples (11), second in stolen bases (45), third in hits (309), third in total bases (442) and third in earned run average (2.95).
Deggs' success came during a season in which the program welcomed 19 freshmen and 29 newcomers. Sam Houston notched notable wins against No. 2 Texas A&M (5-0), Houston (4-0) and Baylor (6-5). With a formula for postseason success, the Kats compiled a schedule that included 15 preseason top 25 foes, and shined in that stretch. Sam Houston swept No. 25 Oklahoma in three games at Don Sanders Stadium.
During 2016, five Sam Houston players finished ranked in six top-20 national statistical categories. Catcher Robie Rojas was first in runners caught stealing (30), Andrew Fregia was third in triples (7), Greg Belton was 14th in saves (13), Heath Donica was 18th in victories (10) and 20th in complete games (4) while Bryce Johnson was 20th in hits (90).
Belton became the 54th player in Sam Houston history to be selected in the MLB Draft. A season later, when Bryce Johnson would be taken in the sixth round of 2017 draft by the San Francisco Giants, it would mark the 28th MLB team (of 30) to take a Bearkat.
During his inaugural campaign, Deggs helped guide the Bearkats to the Southland Conference Championship game, falling just one win shy of advancing to the program's fourth straight NCAA Regional.
With a sense of excitement surrounding the program in 2015, the Bearkats logged a pair of all-time attendance records (No. 4 – vs. Baylor: 1,729; No. 7 – vs. Wichita State: 1,257) and re-wrote four of the top five attendance marks when facing Southland foes.
On the field, Deggs helped tutor a program-record tying five players selected in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, bringing the total of active players in professional baseball to 16.
The 2015 squad etched its way into the Sam Houston record books, highlighted by a pitching staff that ranked third in team lore with 433 strikeouts. Leading the charge were Andrew Godail and Alex Bisacca whose ERA's of 2.30 and 2.35 respectively placed them fourth and fifth in school history.
Offensively, Deggs' team stifled Southland pitchers, ranking second in runs scored (160), third in average (.299), third in hits (304), third in on base percentage (.369) against league foes.
Prior to Sam Houston, the Texas City native served as the Louisiana-Lafayette hitting coach and third base coach, while also overseeing team personnel and recruiting. The Cajuns were a game away from the College World Series in 2014, while the squad posted the most wins in both Sun Belt and program history, finishing the season with 58 victories.
For the second straight season Deggs guided an offense that was revered as the best in college baseball. Louisiana-Lafayette finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation in 14 offensive categories and had an OPS of .902.
After starting the season with its highest pre-season ranking in school history at No. 14 in the Baseball America poll, the Cajuns squad cracked the Top 10 for the first time since 2000 three weeks into the season. On March 24, the Ragin Cajuns became the first team in the history of UL-Lafayette athletics to earn top billing in the nation in any sport with a No. 1 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball weekly poll.
The No. 1 ranking marked the third time in Deggs' career that he was a member of a program that was ranked inside of the top 5 during a season (UL-Lafayette, Texas A&M, Arkansas) including two teams that ascended to the No. 1 spot in the nation (UL-Lafayette, Texas A&M). Following the program's second Sun Belt Tournament championship, the Cajuns were tabbed as the unanimous No. 1 team headed into the NCAA Tournament.
After hitting just .263 with 18 home runs in 2012, the Cajuns exploded under Deggs' direction in 2013. At the conclusion of the regular season the Cajuns were ranked inside the Top 5 in the NCAA in eight offensive categories.
With the improved production, the Cajuns once again found themselves in postseason play. ULL was awarded the No. 2 seed at the Baton Rouge Regional where the Cajuns rallied from an opening loss to Sam Houston, to ultimately fall in the regional final to host LSU.
In two full seasons with the Ragin' Cajun baseball program, Deggs and his aggressive “Pack Mentality” offensive style has helped the Cajuns in amassing a 101-30 overall record, a Sun Belt Conference regular season championship, a Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship and a regional championship.
The squads also produced two trips to the NCAA tournament, the school's first ever national seed, 15 all-conference athletes, a Sun Belt player of the year, a conference tournament MVP, the program's first ever member of Team USA (Blake Trahan) and three All-Americans and two Freshmen All-Americans.
Most impressive however is the fact that with all the wins, the Cajuns also won the award for best team grade point average in the Sun Belt Conference with a 3.30 GPA.
Prior to joining the Cajuns staff, Deggs previously served as associate head coach at Texas A&M for Rob Childress from 2006-2011. While in College Station, Deggs coached third base, oversaw, and ran the Aggie offense in addition to overseeing team personnel.
His aggressive approach was one of the key components of the Aggies' success. During a five-year stretch Deggs helped in building and coaching teams that played in the NCAA College World Series, appeared in three NCAA Super Regionals, five NCAA Regionals, capture five Big 12 Championships (regular season/conference tournament), break a school record with five consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, produce the biggest turnaround in the NCAA from 2006 to2007, set a Big 12 record with 16 consecutive wins in conference play, set the Big 12 record with 151 stolen bases in a season and in 2009 Texas A&M achieved the school's first ever preseason national No. 1 ranking by Baseball America.
During Deggs time at Texas A&M, the Aggies produced two Big 12 Players of the Year, nine All-Americans and 15 First-Team All-Big 12 performers.
Deggs utilized an aggressive offensive attack that he describes as a “Pack Mentality” approach to help Texas A&M capture back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2007 and 2008.
“Every hitter inside ‘The Pack' has a job, duty or function,” Deggs said. “Some of them run, some produce runs, some hit for power and some do all three … but they all know their role, they all function together as a Pack and they all play with the four pillars of ‘The Pack': Attitude, Approach, Intensity and Toughness.”
The Pack Philosophy paid big dividends for Texas A&M. Over a three year stretch (2007-2009), the Aggies hit .309 with 232 home runs and over 2,000 hits while driving in nearly 1,300 runs—the best three-year totals in a decade. In addition, Texas A&M swiped over 300 bases at nearly a 75 percent success rate.
One of only a handful of coaches in the nation to have won both SEC and Big 12 titles in their careers, Deggs spent three seasons at the University of Arkansas as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for Dave Van Horn from 2003 to 2005. He coached three All-SEC players and three Freshman All-Americans while helping the Hogs to the SEC Championship and a trip to the College World Series in 2004.
Deggs was a key figure in the Razorbacks return to national prominence, as the Hogs' offense steadily improved to one of the best in the SEC. The team saw its batting average increase from .278 prior to Deggs' arrival to .303 in 2005 – the best by a Razorback team in eight seasons.
The Razorbacks also finished 2005 with the fourth best slugging percentage (.451) in the SEC and fifth in on-base percentage (.382). The Hogs' 133 doubles tied for third most in the league and seventh most in school history. Arkansas finished second in the league with 108 stolen bases.
Prior to his stint at Arkansas, Deggs tallied a record of 187-100 as the head coach at Texarkana College. In his five-year stay at Texarkana, Deggs led the team to two Texas Eastern Athletic Conference runner-up finishes, a pair of TEAC Titles (2001-2002), and the school's first ever trip to the Junior College World Series.
While at Texarkana, Deggs coached five All-Americans and 25 all-conference players in his five seasons, while sending 35 players to Division I programs. In addition, Deggs signed and coached current San Francisco Giant outfielder and 2012 World Series Champion Hunter Pence.
Deggs spent the 1996 and 1997 seasons as the hitting and infield coach at Northwestern State under Van Horn, helping the Demons to the Southland Conference Title in 1997. His infield units ranked among the top infield groups in the country in both seasons.
During his coaching career, Deggs has helped to sign seven future first round draft picks – with Clayton Kershaw being most notable among them – and has currently coached 10 players that have played in the big leagues, Hunter Pence being the most notable.
Deggs was an infielder at Alvin Junior College from 1991-92 and at Northwood University from 1993-94. Deggs received his master's degree from Northwestern State in December of 1996.
He played professionally for three years for the Mobile (Ala.) Baysharks and the Tennessee Tomahawks, two of which were spent as a player/coach under former Boston Red Sox manager Butch Hobson and former Red Sox catcher Mike O'Berry.
Deggs is married to the former Kathy Saldua and the couple has a son, Kyler, and two daughters, Klaire and Khloe.