HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Sam Houston State Director of Athletics Bobby Williams announced Thursday that Jay Sirianni has been elevated to head coach, taking over the reins of the Bearkat baseball program.
Sirianni is the 10th head coach in program history and replaces Matt Deggs after Deggs took the head coaching job at the University of Louisiana last week. A native of Indianola, Iowa, Sirianni has served as the Bearkats’ associate head coach and pitching instructor each of the last five seasons on Deggs’ staff.
He will be introduced at a press conference on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
“This was a diligent process which brought us a number of highly-qualified candidates, but at the end of the day we felt as though the best fit was under our own roof with Jay Sirianni,” Williams said. “Jay has played such a big part in bringing this program to the level it is at, and we feel as though he is ready to continue the success that he has helped build with Bearkat Baseball.”
While at SHSU, Sirianni has been an integral part of taking Bearkat baseball to new heights with 187 total wins in that span. That mark includes Southland Conference regular season titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019, along with a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals in 2017.
Prior to his arrival in Huntsville, Sirianni served as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at UT Arlington for 10 seasons. He mentored more than 21 pitchers that were drafted or signed free agent contracts with MLB organizations while helping lead UTA to a pair of conference titles.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Hoyt and Bobby Williams for this great opportunity,” Sirianni said. “Sam Houston State is a special place to myself and my family. It is a great honor to pick up the mantle as the head baseball coach at such a successful university. Our staff and I will work extremely hard to continue the high level of success this program has had.”
Since joining Sam Houston prior to the 2015 season, Sirianni has tutored a pair of freshman All-Americans and another third-team All-American while having seven pitchers drafted in the MLB Draft. His pitching staff set a new program record with 522 strikeouts in 2017 with two of the top-three strikeout season totals in program history coming with Sirianni as coach, including the 2016 staff's 439 strikeouts.
The Bearkats captured their first-ever NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2017 and matched the previous program record with 44 victories. The win total marked the first time the Kats had produced consecutive 40-win seasons in Division I history.
Sam Houston pitching played an integral role in the program reaching consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017, posting a 1.32 ERA while limiting opponents to a .167 average in four games at the Southland Conference Tournament in 2017 on their way to a run to the Tallahassee Super Regional.
The Kats backed that up with consecutive Southland Conference regular season titles, going 44-16 in SLC play while winning 18 of 20 league series.
Following the 2017 season, the squad finished nationally ranked in all six polls, checking in at No. 14 (Collegiate Baseball), No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 18 (D1 Baseball), No. 19 (USA Today Coaches), No. 20 (Baseball America) and No. 22 (Perfect Game).
That year Sam Houston led the Southland Conference in ERA (3.80), strikeouts (522) and saves (20) while finishing second in opponent batting average (.258). The success came during a season in which the bullpen featured eight first-year players including six freshmen.
Prior to joining the Kats, Sirianni had the UT Arlington pitching staff consistently as one of the best in its conference. He helped lead the Mavericks to three conference titles and two NCAA Regional appearances.
Under Sirianni's guidance, UT Arlington won a conference title in back-to-back years for the first time in program history. The Mavs made conference tournament appearances in seven of ten seasons.
The 2012 UTA pitching staff finished the season with a 3.89 ERA, the program's best ERA since 1992. His staff led the Southland in ERA in 2009 and followed up to lead the league in strikeouts in 2010.
During his stay in Arlington, the Mavericks posted 26 wins over top-25 nationally-ranked opponents with six victories over top-10 ranked teams.
All three of Sirianni's weekend starters were drafted in the top-17 rounds of the 2010 MLB Draft – a first in Southland Conference history.
Before his arrival at UT Arlington, Sirianni spent three seasons as the pitching coach at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas. While at Barton County, Sirianni helped lead the Cougars to a 113-56 record and qualified for three consecutive NJCAA Region VI Tournaments.
He began his collegiate playing career at Texas A&M before transferring to Nebraska to play for head coach Dave Van Horn.
Following his career at Nebraska, Sirianni was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians. He began his professional career with the Burlington Indians (Rookie League) and also spent time with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (New York-Penn League) and Kingston Indians (Carolina League).
After finishing his pro career in January 2001, Sirianni returned to Nebraska for his final semester and earned a bachelor's degree in history in May 2001. He served as a graduate assistant on the baseball coaching staff and helped the team make it to the College World Series.
Sirianni played his prep career at Indianola High School. He earned 10 varsity letters with four coming in baseball and three each in track and field and football. He was a two-time All-State selection and a three-time All-Conference pick.
Sirianni's father, John, was the Director of Athletics at Division III Simpson College in Indianola for 28 years, spending 20 years as the school's head baseball coach. His brother, Mike, the former head coach at Regis University (Division II) and is currently an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Wichita State.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT JAY SIRIANNI
“I couldn’t me more excited for Jay Sirianni and for Sam Houston State University in continuing the long run of home run hires as their newest head coach. I have had the opportunity to coach Jay, coach along side him and admire the job he has done from afar for a long time. Jay is an incredible leader and knows the game along with developing relationships that are long lasting with his players. Jay will no doubt continue to elevate the Sam Houston State baseball program in a positive manner both on and off the field.”
Rob Childress, Texas A&M Head Coach
“I’m excited for Jay and this opportunity he has at Sam Houston State. I was lucky to have Jay as a player at Nebraska and watched him develop as a coach over the years and he’s become one of the top pitching coaches in the nation. I know he’s up to this challenge of taking over a Sam Houston State program that Matt Deggs built up and I know he’ll continue the success that they’ve had over the last few years.”
Dave Van Horn, Arkansas Head Coach
“Jay is the one of the hardest working, most organized, consistent and prepared coach that I have ever had the honor of working with- Jay was a really good pitcher during his career but has become an even better coach... he cares deeply for his players and is a dynamic recruiter and is exceptional at developing players. Jays Teams will be hard working, disciplined and won’t beat themselves- it’s long overdue that Jay has his own program. This is a proud day for The Sirianni’s, Sam Houston State & for me personally. I look forward to watching Jay and his staff take Sam Houston to even greater heights! He was so instrumental in what we were able to accomplish and I’m excited to watch him lead his own Team.”
Matt Deggs, Louisiana Head Coach
“I’m extremely happy for Jay, Erin and the whole Sirianni family. This has been a long time coming and he will do an outstanding job representing Sam Houston State University and the Bearkat Baseball program. The players that pass through the program will be privileged to play for him and better for it.”
Darin Thomas, UT Arlington Head Coach