CARROLLTON, Ga. – Jeff Smith has been named the eighth head baseball coach in the history of the program at the University of West Georgia, Athletic Director Daryl Dickey announced Friday.
Smith takes over the UWG baseball program after nine years as an assistant coach under former head coach Skip Fite, who retired earlier this spring. As a member of Fite’s staff, Smith helped guide the Wolves to a record of 241-208, reaching the Gulf South Conference tournament seven times and the NCAA South Regional in 2016.
“I’d like to thank the applicants and final candidates for their interest in our position,” Dickey said. “We had a strong amount of interest in this position, and after careful consideration from our committee, we feel we have the right man for the job based on his vision for the program and familiarity with all facets of West Georgia baseball. With that, I am happy to announce interim head coach Jeff Smith as the new head baseball coach at the University of West Georgia.”
The 2020 season will be Smith’s 10th as a collegiate head baseball coach and his 28th overall as a baseball coach. He spent six years as head coach at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, amassing a record of 225-123 between 1999 and 2005. From 1996-1999, Smith was head coach at Tennessee Wesleyan University in Athens, Tennessee, finishing his time there with a record of 69-67. Overall, Smith has a record of 294-190 in his nine years of experience as a head coach.
Since joining the staff at UWG, Smith has helped guide 22 players to All-Gulf South Conference status and six players to All-Region honors, also producing two All-Americans. Three UWG players in the past nine years have either been drafted or signed to play professional baseball. Added to his previous stops at the University of Montevallo (2007-10) and at Volunteer State, Smith has coached 10 different collegiate players who joined the professional ranks.
“I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead this baseball program,” said Smith. “I want to thank Daryl Dickey, Jim Sutherland and many others who have supported me through my time here in Carrollton."
The highlight year of Smith’s UWG career came in 2016 as West Georgia posted a 42-16 record, earning the program’s first bid to NCAA Division II Tournament in 18 years. At the South Region Tournament in Tampa, Florida, the Wolves picked up three wins, including a victory that eliminated the defending national champion and host, the University of Tampa, on the Spartans’ home field.
This past season also saw a new standard for UWG baseball, led by senior outfielder Cade Marlowe. A magna cum laude graduate in pre-med biology, Marlowe became the second All-American under Smith and Fite, as well as winning the GSC Commissioner’s Trophy, finishing his career as West Georgia’s single-season and career record-holder in stolen bases.
“My family and I are extremely happy and humbled to be able to have this opportunity,” Smith said. “Skip Fite has laid a phenomenal foundation here in the past 10 years, and I am excited to continue to build upon that foundation and take the program to yet another level.”
Smith played collegiately at the University of Louisville and graduated from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He and his wife, Nancy, have three daughters: Abbie (UWG ’17), Sarah Katherine and Lydia. They reside in Carrollton.
UWG Highlights as Assistant Coach
Coach Smith took over a pitching staff with a 9.59 ERA. In 2015 the Wolves pitching staff posted a team ERA of 3.10, ranked 9th in NCAA Division II team ERA. Smith has been influential in the development of UWG Career strikeout leader Jamie Sexton and Tyler Gunnin, who holds the UWG single-season saves
The Wolves had a pair of shortstops move on to professional baseball in back-to-back years as in 2016, shortstop Caleb Lopes was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. In 2017, shortstop Artemis Kadkhodaian signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
In 2017 Drew Eady was named to the Rawlings Gold Glove Team for the second year in a row. This makes the third time in three years that a UWG player was awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove. In Smith’s nine years at UWG, there have been 22 players named to the All-Gulf South Conference teams and 10 players receiving recognition for All-Gulf South Conference Academic awards.
The 2018 season saw the Wolves win 32 games and rank seventh in the Gulf South Conference in Team ERA at 4.54. Where the UWG staff was best was in walks issued, as the Wolves had just 137 walks allowed on the year and teams hit .275 against the staff. The 137 walks issued was second-best in the GSC.
The Wolves were poised for more improvement in the 2016 season, and that they did, posting the third-best record in school history with a 42-16 mark. Additionally, the Wolves reached the NCAA Regional for the first time since 1998, traveling to Tampa, Fla. as the sixth seed in the tournament. After falling to eventual National Champion Nova Southeastern in the opening round, the Wolves would rattle off three straight wins defeating Claflin, top-seed and defending champion Tampa, and then finally a win over GSC rival West Florida. After the win over UWF, the Wolves had to come back to take on Delta State, and ran out of gas, falling to the Statesmen and ending the best season in more than a decade at West Georgia.
Five Wolves were named to the All-GSC team in the 2015 season with Caleb Lopes, Garrett Hayes, and Matthew Norton each earning All-Region honors. Senior right fielder Tyler Hutch was named to the Rawlings Gold Glove Team as well. Coach Smith came to West Georgia following five years on the staff of former Gulf South Conference rival, the University of Montevallo.
While at Montevallo Smith helped lead the Falcons to two South Central Regional tournaments in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 UM captured the South Central Region and finish third in the NCAA Division II World Series. During his time at Montevallo, the Falcons had 17 players named to All-Gulf South Conference Honors and 8 named to the All GSC Academic teams. In 2006 Smith was recognized by the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association as the Alabama Assistant Coach of the Year. Prior to his time at Montevallo, Smith had a successful six-year run as head coach at Volunteer (Tenn.) State Community College. In 2000 his team won 48 games and was ranked as high as #1 in the Nation in NJCAA. Smith has one former player in Major League Baseball in pitcher Steve Delabar who played with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cincinnati Reds. Delabar made the American League All-Star team in 2013 as a member of the Blue Jays.