Matt Deggs is in the midst of his second season at the helm of Sam Houston State baseball after being hired as the program’s eighth head coach on June 27, 2014.
Under his direction, the Bearkats won the 2016 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 is 41-20 entering the Lafayette Regional, notching its third 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 head to Lafayette having posted a 35-8 record over its final 43 games in route to a four NCAA Regional in five seasons. Sam Houston finished 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 notced 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 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.