GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Long-time Tusculum assistant baseball coach and recruiting coordinator Brandon Steele has been named the new head coach of the Pioneers announced Doug Jones, vice president of student success and athletics. Steele succeeds Jones, who guided the program for the last 21 seasons.
Steele becomes the 25th baseball coach in program history, but only the second Pioneer skipper since Tusculum became a NCAA Division II member in 1998.
Steele served on Jones' staff for 15 successful campaigns where the Pioneers posted a remarkable 545-271-1 overall record which included five South Atlantic Conference championships, four SAC Tournament titles and six trips to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
After arriving on the Tusculum campus in fall 2003, the Pioneers recorded 14 straight winning seasons while averaging 36 wins per year including five campaigns with 40 or more victories and five times ending the season with a national ranking.
"The search committee went through a thorough process and interviewed several quality candidates. Brandon did an excellent job of sharing his vision for the program and pointing out necessary changes that need to be made," said Jones. "Brandon has been a huge part of the success that the program has had over the years and is a proven recruiter. I fully expect Brandon to take the program to new heights."
From 2005-2008, the Pioneers accounted for four straight 40-win campaigns resulting in three SAC championships, two SAC Tournament crowns and three trips to the NCAA postseason. The 2005 club swept both the SAC regular season and tournament titles while recording a 44-17 worksheet. Tusculum became the first team in league history to lose its opening SAC Tournament game and win the next six to claim the title. The Pioneers would finished the year with a No. 13 national ranking.
After going 40-14-1 in 2006 which included the program's second SAC crown, Steele and the Pioneers recorded the best season in school history by going an amazing 50-14 in 2007. Tusculum claimed its third straight SAC championship while rattling off a school-record 23-game winning streak. The 50 wins are still the most in school and league history as the Pioneers advanced to the NCAA Tournament and finished ranked 10th in the country.
The 2008 Pioneers rattled off a 41-15 record and went a perfect 4-0 to claim the SAC Tournament title and a berth to the NCAA postseason.
Behind the strength of five All-Americans and seven All-League performers, Tusculum won its first 15 contests in 2012 to sweep the SAC regular season and tournament championships. The Pioneers went 48-10 on the year, including 24-3 in SAC play for the most conference wins in league history. In the SAC Tournament, Tusculum went 4-0 while outscoring the opposition by a 51-11 margin, including 13-0 in the first inning alone. The Pioneers advanced to the final day of the NCAA II Southeast Regional and finished third in the event and ended the season ranked ninth in the country.
In 2016, Tusculum claimed a share of the SAC Tournament title and sparked by the play of consensus NCAA II National Pitcher of the Year Placido Torres, who led the nation in earned run average (0.70) and total strikeouts (162) while posting an 11-0 record.
Steele has coached 18 All-Americans, 38 All-Region honorees and 62 All-Conference selections including two SAC Players of the Year (Maikol Gonzalez – 2007; Jared Richmond – 2010) and five SAC Pitchers of the Year (Brent Gabel – 2005; Kevin Hammons – 2007; C.J. Hillyer – 2009; Craig Goodman – 2012; Placido Torres – 2016).
"I am excited and honored to have the privilege of being the next head baseball coach at Tusculum University," said Steele. "I would like to thank Tusculum president Dr. James Hurley, Coach Jones and the search committee for entrusting me to lead the program Coach Jones and teams before us have built and grew for 21 seasons. I am looking forward to continuing the strong tradition that everyone has come to expect from Tusculum Baseball and moving the program forward while honoring the teams of the past."
"Tusculum is a very special place. The University, community, student-athletes and alumni that make up Pioneer Nation expect great things from us and I hope we can make them proud with how our student-athletes represent Tusculum each and every day," Steele added. "I am confident that our returning players and newcomers we will welcome this fall will be ready to work towards our goal of competing at the highest level both on and off the field."
Steele, a native of London, Ontario, Canada, came to Tusculum after serving as an assistant coach at Macomb Community College in Warren, Michigan and Roseville (Mich.) High School in 2003.
Steele's coaching experience also extends to summer baseball. He served as associate head coach for the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the prestigious Northwoods League in 2007 and 2008. Steele's 2008 squad set numerous league and franchise records including tying the franchise mark for wins with 41. His 2008 Woodchucks also made their first playoff appearance since 2003. For his efforts, Steele was named the Northwoods League "Coach of The Year" in 2008. He was promoted Field Manager of the Woodchucks in 2009.
During the summers of 2005 and 2006 Steele served as manager of the Medicine Hat Mavericks. During his two seasons with the Mavericks, Steele's teams rewrote the league's offensive record books while reaching the playoffs both seasons.
In 2004 Steele was the Assistant Field manager of the London Majors of the Intercounty Baseball League. While with London, Steele helped lead the Majors to the league championship for the first time in 25 years. Steele also has previous coaching experience with the Novi Expos in Novi, Michigan, and the University of Western Ontario in London.
His previous playing experience includes time with the London Majors of the Semi-Pro Intercounty Baseball League from 1997-2003. For his 2001 performance, Steele was named a First Team All-Star. That season he batted .387 with 12 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI. In college, he played at Macomb Community College where he hit .385 as a freshman as his team advanced to the NJCAA World Series.
Steele has coached over 50 players who have signed professional contracts including 30 with the Pioneers.
Steele has served on the baseball camp staffs at Duke, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Eastern Michigan. He is also a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association.
He earned an Associate of Arts degree in general studies from Macomb College. Steele also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education, health and wellness and a Masters of Arts degree in human resource management, both from Tusculum.
Steele is married to the former Mary Kay Benson of Monroe, Michigan and they are the parents of one daughter, Samantha.
What They Are Saying About Coach Steele:
"I believe the hire of Brandon Steele at Tusculum University is an outstanding one. His passion and energy will make it a great student-athlete experience for those fortunate enough to play for him. I'm excited for both Brandon and the future of Tusculum Baseball."
Assistant Coach – West Virginia University
Former head coach – University of Tennessee, Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine
""I've known Brandon for nearly all my coaching career and I can't think of a more deserving person for this position. Brandon is one of the most respected assistant coaches in the South Atlantic Conference and Division II baseball. He has been right in the middle of the incredible success of Tusculum Baseball throughout the past several years. He is a terrific recruiter, hard worker and will be a great representative of Tusculum University."
Head Coach – Trevecca Nazarene University
"From the day Coach Steele stepped onto the campus and joined us at Tusculum, it became evident that he had a great mind for the college game. He is a tireless worker and one who never left any stone un-turned that could improve our program. I cannot envision Tusculum finding a better person than Coach Steele, as I cannot see a coach that is better prepared to lead the change from one of the top leaders and coaches in the college ranks and into a new era of Pioneer Baseball. I expect great things out of the Tusculum Baseball under Coach Steele. Go Pioneers!"
Southeast Scouting Supervisor – Kansas City Royals
Former Assistant Baseball Coach – Tusculum College