The date of April 6th, 2016 will now be etched into the mind of University of the Cumberlands (UC) Baseball Head Coach Brad Shelton along with many members of the Patriots baseball program for a lifetime. Just over a week after earning his 500th career win at UC, Shelton’s team would come home to sweep the Cavaliers of Montreat College in a mid-week doubleheader. On that day, Shelton would make a mark on the UC baseball program that will stand for many years to come as he would tie and break the record for all-time wins as a head coach for baseball for the Patriots.
The Patriots would take game one over Montreat by a score of 2-0, giving Coach Shelton win #502 to tie former Cumberlands’ Head Coach Terry Stigall, who accumulated a record of 502-298 over a 19 year coaching stint. In game two, UC would come away victorious 4-3 over the Cavaliers, breaking Stigall’s mark that has stood for over 15 years.
Shelton now has an overall coaching record of 692 wins and 374 losses with a win percentage of .650. Shelton’s 503 victories at Cumberlands, entering the 2015-16 season, ranks him 10th all-time in Kentucky Collegiate Baseball Coaching wins (at 4 year institutions) and second among active coaches. Including his wins as a head coach at the junior college level, he ranks sixth all time in wins for Collegiate Baseball Coaches in the state of Kentucky. Coach Shelton adopted the program back in 2001, inheriting a team that was 7-34 in the previous season. He would go on to direct the team to a 34-29 record in 2002. This was the biggest turnaround in college baseball (+27 victories) at any level in 2002.
Over the past 15 seasons, the Patriots have become a consistent winner, playing a competitive schedule including some of the top teams in the NAIA. The UC Baseball program has posted twelve 30 plus wins seasons and three 40 plus wins seasons during that time period. The program has 14 straight seasons of 26 or more victories.
Since coming to UC in 2001, Shelton has built one of the NAIA’s best baseball programs in the country. His teams during that span have made 5 regional tournaments, won 3 Mid-South Conference (MSC) Championships, and 1 MSC Tournament Championship.
Highlights during his career at UC include setting the record at UC for wins in a single season with 45 in 2004 and a #3 NAIA national ranking. He also led his 2005 team to a NAIA Regional Runner-up finish and had his 2008 team ranked #7 nationally with 43 wins.
“My congratulations go out to Coach Shelton for becoming the all-time leader in wins for baseball at University of the Cumberlands,” said UC Athletic Director and VP for Athletics Randy Vernon. “His outstanding ability as a baseball coach and a leader of men continues the strong baseball tradition started by legendary coaches Walt Mathes and Terry Stigall and to pass their win totals is quite an accomplishment. UC is very fortunate to have such an outstanding coach and person as Brad Shelton.”
During his time as the Patriots coach, Shelton has had 1 NAIA First Team All-American, 1 Region XI Player of the Year, 3 MSC Players of the Year, 2 MSC Pitchers of the Year, 2 MSC Freshmen of the Year, and 44 First Team All MSC performers. His players have also been successful in the classroom with many earning MSC Academic All-Conference. He has also coached 11 players that have moved on to play beyond the collegiate level in the professional ranks, including former Patriot and current MLB pitcher for the Houston Astros Mike Fiers.
Prior to coming to UC, Shelton was the head coach at St. Catharine College where he built a nationally ranked junior college program. During his six year tenure at the helm, the team was able to win 189 wins with 60 former players moving on to sign with four year colleges and universities. He also had 2 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft picks.
Coach Shelton commented, “God has blessed me with the job I always wanted at a school I love. This is a program milestone. It’s not about me. It’s about all of the alumni and former coaches who’ve been here over the past 50-plus years. Coach Mathis and Stigall built a winning tradition. I’ve been blessed with good players and assistant coaches the past 15 years so we could continue the success. Our sports information office and athletic training room staff are so helpful. Athletic Director Randy Vernon, former President Dr. Taylor and current President Dr. Cockrum have given us the chance to be competitive. My wife and family have supported me the whole way. I also have great friends and mentors in coaching that I have learned so much from. I am so thankful for all of those people who’ve supported me and our program.”
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Story courtesy of UC Multimedia/Athletic Services