Seattle University head baseball coach Donny Harrel has come to an agreement with the school on a new four-year contract, announced Monday by the athletics department.
Harrel was hired in the summer of 2008 to build from scratch a baseball program that was reinstated by the university after it was dropped as a varsity sport in 1986. After using the 2008-09 academic year to put together a team, Harrel led the Redhawks into competition in the 2009-10 campaign, picking up victories at Oregon, at Portland, against Dallas Baptist, against BYU, and against Creighton at historic Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
In the 2011 baseball season, the Redhawks nearly doubled their win total from 11 to 21, including Seattle U's first victories over crosstown rival Washington since the start of the reclassification process. Seattle U also defeated nationally-ranked Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., plus took two of three games from Notre Dame.
This past season, Seattle U once again improved on its win total, earning 23 wins featuring another victory at Washington, the program's first road series win since its rebirth by taking two of three games at San Jose State, and a come-from-behind win at Washington State for the Redhawks' first victory over the Cougars since 1968.
"Donny and his staff have done a remarkable job in a very short period of time. Baseball is very important to the Seattle U community and we have established a solid foundation to compete for championships in the near future," noted Bill Hogan, SU Director of Athletics who hired Harrel in 2008.
"I am very excited Seattle U believes in me and what our staff is doing here with the Redhawk baseball program. Our student-athletes have helped build this program back up on and off the field, but with baseball being gone for 26 years, we still have work to do. This commitment by the university allows us to continue with our vision of create an outstanding baseball program and get it back to the competitive nature it held in years past," Harrel said.
Besides the work on the field, Harrel has led the baseball program to solid performances in the classroom and in the community. The Redhawk baseball players have become heavily involved with organizations such as the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, the Rotary Boys and Girls Club, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Harrel will lead the Seattle U baseball team into the Western Athletic Conference starting next season, a strong league that in 2013 will include three teams that played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament (Dallas Baptist, New Mexico State, Texas-Arlington). The Redhawks will look to advance to the WAC Tournament, where an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament awaits the winner.
"With us joining the WAC this next year, this opportunity continues to allow us to write our own chapters in the SU Baseball history book. I feel very blessed to have the support of the university, our alums, and all those involved with the program. Our work has only just begun and I look forward to a bright future with our players and staff. SU baseball has truly become my passion and the challenges we face is exactly why I enjoy doing this," said Harrel.
The Seattle U baseball team will face the following schools in WAC competition next year: CSU Bakersfield, Dallas Baptist, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Sacramento State, San Jose State, Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio, and Texas State. Harrel is also putting together a strong non-conference schedule for the Redhawks, which will be released to the public early in the 2012-13 academic year.