OMAHA (NCBWA) After leading Mississippi State to the College World Series, Bulldogs interim head coach Gary Henderson has been named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Coach of the Year.
"Coach Gary Henderson literally worked a miracle in getting Mississippi State to Omaha this season," NCBWA executive director Bo Carter said. "After having to play their first 11 games on the road due to stadium construction and losing the opening SEC series to Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs rallied behind Coach Henderson and accomplished one of the great turnarounds in SEC history. He is a perfect choice for 2018 NCBWA National Division I Coach of the Year."
The Bulldogs advanced to the CWS under Henderson, who was named the interim head coach three games into the season, despite starting the year 0-3 and SEC play 2-7. After rallying to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, thanks in part to series sweeps of fellow CWS teams Arkansas and Florida, MSU won five elimination games in the NCAA postseason to advance to Omaha. Three of the Bulldogs NCAA Tournament wins either came in walk-off fashion or in extra innings.
After compiling a 19-19 record through the first 38 games of the season, and a 5-10 SEC record in the first half of conference play, Henderson led a Bulldog turnaround that saw MSU finish the regular season winning 12 of its last 17 games with a 10-5 league record to finish 31-24 (15-15 SEC) and earn a spot in the NCAA Regionals.
Mississippi State opened the Tallahassee Regional with a 20-10 loss against Oklahoma, but rallied to win four straight games eliminating No. 7 national seed Florida State, before beating Samford and Oklahoma twice. Henderson and the Bulldogs advanced to face Vanderbilt, who swept MSU in a regular-season series in Starkville, in a Super Regional. MSU won game one of the Super Regional at Vanderbilt with a two-run walk-off home run, before dropping game two 4-3. In the deciding game, Henderson led the Bulldogs to a 10-6 win in 11 innings to earn a spot in the College World Series.
Under Henderson, Jake Mangum earned first-team All-SEC honors as well as being named to the SEC All-Defensive Team. First baseman Tanner Allen was honored as a member of the Freshman All-SEC Team. In addition, seven Bulldogs were selected in the MLB Draft. Pitcher Konnor Pilkington was the third round pick of the Chicago White Sox, while pitcher JP France was selected in the 14th round by the Houston Astros, second baseman Hunter Stovall in the 21st round by the Colorado Rockies and pitcher Ethan Small in the 26th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitcher Zack Neff was selected in the 31st round by the Minnesota Twins and Mangum was picked in the 31st round by the New York Mets.
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ALL-TIME NCBWA COACHES OF THE YEAR
2018: Gary Henderson, Mississippi State
2017: Pat Casey, Oregon State
2016: Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina
2015: Paul Mainieri, LSU
2014: Mike Gillespie, UC Irvine
2013: Tracy Smith, Indiana
2012: Matt Senk, Stony Brook
2011: David Esquer, California
2010: Jim Schlossnagle, TCU
2009: Brian O'Connor, Virginia
2008: Mike Batesole Fresno State
NCBWA Coach of the Year