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Former Lions Playing in 2014 World Series

A pair of former University of North Alabama baseball players will be on opposite sides in the 2014 World Series when Josh Willingham and the Kansas City Royals take on Sergio Romo and the San Francisco Giants.
This will be the first World Series trip for Willingham, an 11-year Major League veteran. It will be the third World Series trip for Romo in the last five years with the Giants.

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Mike Keehn

 

Head Coach: University of North Alabama

After 20 seasons as an assistant coach at the University of North Alabama, Mike Keehn was given the reigns of the Lion baseball program on November 2, 2008. when he was named as UNA's head baseball coach. Keehn, who had been an instrumental part of North Alabama's tremendous success over the last two decades, first as a student assistant and then as a full-time assistant coach, responded by leading the Lions to an impressive 32-20 record in his first season at the helm. Then last season he led the Lions to a solid fourth place finish in the Gulf South Conference Tournament and a 29-24 overall record.

During his more than two decades at UNA, Keehn has helped develop the Mike Lane Field infield into one of the best playing surfaces in the country. He has also helped direct the Lions' recruiting efforts that have continued to bring talented student-athletes to the UNA campus. Keehn has also handled several of the Lions' fund-raising efforts.

As an assistant, Keehn helped lead UNA to a combined 720-318-7 record over a 20-year span from 1989-2008, while working with the Lion infielders and hitters. During those 20 years UNA won four Gulf South Conference baseball titles and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1999 he helped direct a UNA team that went 45-12, won the Gulf South Conference and NCAA Division II South Central Regional championships and advanced to the Division II Baseball Championship in Montgomery, Ala.

An infielder at Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska-Kearney), where he earned honorable mention All-America honors, Keehn was drafted and signed by the Texas Rangers organization. After a stint in the minor leagues, he went to coach at Kansas City, Kan., Community College from 1985-88. He helped direct KCKCC to a 120-36 record over those three seasons with two Jayhawk Conference championships and two district runner-up finishes.

In 1988 he came to North Alabama and in his first season with the Lions he was a part of his third straight championship team as UNA went 44-11 and won the Gulf South Conference crown. The Lions then advanced to the NCAA regionals for the fourth time in six years. In 1990 the Lions went 37-11 and won the GSC West Division and followed with a 30-17 mark in 1991 and an NCAA South Atlantic Regional berth. UNA made its second straight NCAA appearance with a 33-19-1 finish in 1992 and followed with a third straight appearance, a third Gulf South Conference championship, and a 39-18 record in 1993. In 1994, UNA went 35-11-2 and won the GSC East Division. In 1995 UNA was 43-15, won the GSC East Division and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional. In 1996 the Lions finished with a 37-11 record, and in 1997 UNA was 40-15-1, won its third GSC title since Keehn's arrival and made the ninth NCAA tournament appearance in school history.

In 1998 UNA was 38-12 and the Lions followed with a 45-12 record in 1999, 36-16-1 in 2000, 30-18 in 2001, 37-16 in 2002, 35-15 in 2003, 34-20-1 in 2004, 39-19 in 2005, 38-20 in 2006, 32-21-1 in 2007 and 29-21 in 2008.

Keehn received his B.A. in education with a double major in Physical Education and Business from Kearney State and earned his Master's in Education from UNA in July of 1990. He and his wife Lisa have two daughters, Jessica and Erica, and a son, Austin.

Matt Hancock

 

Assistant Coach: University of North Alabama

Matt Hancock has completed six seasons as a member of the University of North Alabama coaching staff and his third as the Lions' full-time assistant coach.

Hancock was a one-year student assistant coach with the Lions and served two years as a graduate assistant before being elevated to the assistant's position prior to the 2009 season. His primary duties have been with the UNA pitchers. He has helped lead the Lions to a 98-58 record over the last three seasons, including an NCAA South Region Tournament berth in 2011. The Lions finished that 2011 campaign with a 37-14 record, led by a pitching staff with 3.68 earned run average and 12 complete game performances.

Hancock was a four-year letterman for the Lions as a pitcher from 2002-05 and posted a 20-5 career record on the mound at UNA. He was 6-0 as a freshman, 5-0 as a sophomore, 2-2 as a junior and 7-3 as a senior. His 20 wins rank third best in school history. Hancock pitched 206.6 innings in 58 career appearances for the Lions, striking out 128 batters while walking just 46. As a senior, Hancock helped UNA to a Gulf South Conference East Division title that included 16 straight league wins and a 39-19 overall record. UNA advanced to the championship game of the GSC Tournament and he was an All-GSC Tournament selection.

He received his B.S. degree in History from UNA and is in the Health and Physical Education graduate program.

"From him being in our program as both a player and coach, he understands our program and is a good fit in trying to continue our success," said UNA head coach Mike Keehn. "He has done a good job working with our pitchers and was instrumental in signing some players as a graduate assistant coach. He is an even greater asset to our program as an assistant coach."

Hancock is married to former UNA soccer standout Emily Cotham. He received his B.S. degree in History from UNA and his Masters of Health and Physical Education from UNA as well.

Mike Sharp

 

Assistant Coach: University of North Alabama

Mike Played for Kansas City Kansas CC, University of Alabama and Emporia State University. Mike was a college catcher and played independent minor league baseball before starting his coaching career at Kansas Newman University. This is Mike's first year at the University of North Alabama where he will be working with the catchers, outfielders and hitters.

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