WACO (July 24, 2012) -- Baylor baseball head coach Steve Smith was honored as the Midwest Region Coach of the Year when the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) announced its NCAA Division I Regional Coaches of the Year on Tuesday.
The award is Smith’s first-ever ABCA regional honor. He was previously named 2012 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year, marking the fifth time he’s been tabbed conference coach of the year by at least one publication.
Smith guided Baylor to a 49-17 record and a Waco Regional championship in his 18th season in Waco. He also led the Bears to their first-ever No. 1 national ranking when they topped the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll on April 23 and April 30.
Baylor finished the season ranked No. 9 or No. 10 in all four major national polls. BU finished ninth in the NCBWA and USATODAY/ESPN Coaches Polls, and the Bears were 10th in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper polls. This season was the third time in the Smith era the Bears finished ranked in the top 10 nationally (No. 8/9 in 1999 and No. 4 in 2005).
The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll, but Baylor started conference play 18-0 and clinched the league title before suffering its first conference loss on May 12. BU finished Big 12 play with a 20-4 record, which was the second-best winning percentage by any team in league history.
Baylor also won its first regional since 2005 and came up one win shy of the school record and its fourth trip to the College World Series. The Bears played in their 13th NCAA Tournament since 1998, making them one of 14 programs nationally with at least 13 appearances in the last 15 seasons.
The Bears had four All-Americans, 11 All-Big 12 honorees, 10 Academic All-Big 12 selections, six Major League Baseball draft picks, and the Big 12 Player, Newcomer and Coach of the Year.
Smith was joined by Florida State’s Mike Martin (Atlantic), UNC-Wilmington’s Mark Scalf (East), Kent State’s Scott Stricklin (Mideast), Stony Brook’s Matt Senk (Northeast), South Carolina’s Ray Tanner (South), Sam Houston State’s David Pierce (South Central) and Arizona’s Andy Lopez (West).