CARROLLTON, Ga. - It has been a busy month for new UWG head baseball coach Jeff Smith, and that work is starting to pay off, as Smith landed a fantastic hire as his first assistant coach at the University of West Georgia. Smith announced this week that he has named Byan Niedbalski as a full-time assistant coach beginning August 1.
"I'm very excited to have Brian and his wife, Lindsey, coming here to Carrollton to join our program," said Smith. "With his experience and recruiting savvy, I expect our program to continue to move in a positive direction."
Niedbalski will serve as the assistant coach of the Wolves baseball program, taking Smith's place after he was promoted to head coach after the retirement of former head coach Skip Fite earlier this summer. Niedbalski was a Division I athlete in college and has been coaching since the 2015 season.
He spent three years as the assistant coach and primary recruiter for the Maryville (MO) Saints. While with Maryville, Niedbalski was the hitting and infield coach as well as coaching third base. He was also responsible for strength and conditioning, scouting reports, practice plans and recruiting visits for the Saints in that three-year span. In 2018, he was hired as the head coach for Maryville, and was the youngest head baseball coach in the nation, leading the Saints to a winning record for the first time in six years.
The Saints posted 25 victories in his last two years with the program, setting the highest total in the Division II era with 28 in the second year. In that final campaign, Niedbalski helped guide Mitch Carriger and AJ Dean to All-Great Lakes Valley Conference honors. The Saints set Division II-era records in runs (292), doubles (103), triples (18) and RBIs (274) while tying the mark for home runs in a season with 33. In addition, the baseball team led Maryville with 26 GLVC Academic All-Conference honorees.
In his first year as head coach, Maryville had three First Team All-GLVC players and one Second Team member. One player, Dalton Schumer, was named All-Midwest Region and Alex Harris became the all-time leader for strikeouts for the Saints.
In 2016, the Saints saw two infielders earn All-Conference honors as Niedbalski continued to work with the infield and hitters. His recruiting efforts have helped expand Maryville baseball across the country. He helped lead the way to bring 21 new student-athletes to Maryville. His work with the defense helped set a new school record for fielding percentage at .964.
Niedbalski helped guide the 2015 offense to a .293 team batting average while four offensive players earned all-conference honors. The lineup at times played with four freshmen in the order. Mitch Carriger helped lead the offense by hitting .385 while breaking the programs single-season on-base percentage record. The Saints set program records for doubles, walks, stolen bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Niedbalski, a graduate of DeSmet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, finished his collegiate playing career in 2014 at the University of Iowa under head coach Rick Heller. Iowa played in the Big 10 Conference tournament in his final season in what was one of the best turn arounds in Big 10 history. In his Iowa career, Niedbalski appeared in 40 games for the Hawkeyes. He is married to the former Lindsey Carr.