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Stetson Baseball Inks 10 for 2012
Stetson baseball head coach Pete Dunn has announced that he and his staff have signed seven top-quality players who will start school at Stetson next year and begin play in the 2012 season. Eight of the newcomers hail from Florida, while two come from out of the state. One will be transferring from junior college, and nine are set to graduate high school in the spring.
"I am very pleased with this recruiting class", said Dunn. "This is an athletic and versatile class with a very high ceiling."
In 1968 a young catcher transferred to Stetson after two seasons of playing junior college ball. As a Hatter he earned NCAA All-Star honors, graduated and moved on to professional baseball for two seasons with the Royals organization. In 1972 he decided to further his education and attended Georgia Southern University where he worked as an assistant coach and earned a masters degree. In his second season at GSU he helped the Eagles to a College World Series appearance.
In 1974 he returned to Florida and headed the baseball program at Apopka High School near Orlando where he led the prep club to a district championship. The Delray Beach native then returned to Stetson in 1977 as assistant coach under Jim Ward. In 1979 he was promoted to head coach when Ward moved on to Eastern Kentucky.
One thousand, seven hundred and thirty-one games, and 29 years later, head coach Pete Dunn has earned his way to the top of his profession. With 42 victories in 2007 he moved into the Top-10 in career victories by active Division I coaches. He is currently 7th with 1,070. His winning percentage of .619 (1,070-658-3) places him 41st on the active Division I coaches list.
In 2006 Dunn became the 34th coach in NCAA history to reach 1,000 career wins. He is one of only four active coaches to reach the 1,000-win plateau at their alma mater.
During Dunn's tenure, Stetson has earned 16 NCAA Tournament appearances overall including seven in the past nine years. Dunn and the Hatters have gained a reputation as a post-season mainstay.
In 2007 Stetson won the Atlantic Sun regular season championship with a 21-6 conference record (42-21 overall) and Dunn was honored as the league's Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his career.
Since 2000, Stetson has averaged over 40 wins a season, advanced to seven NCAA Regionals including three regional finals, and won four conference championships.
The second of those four championships came in 2005, when the Hatters (35-28) won three consecutive elimination games to capture the A-Sun title. Following a tournament-opening victory over UCF and a loss to Florida Atlantic, Stetson defeated Gardner-Webb, Florida Atlantic, and FAU again to earn their 14th NCAA berth.
In 2004, Stetson (36-23) never dropped lower than second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings and Dunn earned his 900th career win on March 6 vs. Florida A&M.
In 2003 Stetson heated up late in the season and qualified as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament. Then in the Atlanta Regional, Stetson upset the no. 3 national seed Georgia Tech and later defeated East Carolina to advance to the regional championship game for the third time in four years. The win over the Yellow Jackets also gave Stetson (41-24) its fourth straight 40-win season.
A 12-game win streak in 2002 helped spark Dunn's Hatters to their third consecutive 40-win season (42-19) and third-consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. Stetson was also ranked as high as 22nd in the nation in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll.
In 2001, Dunn guided the Hatters to a 43-17 record and the team's highest-ever national ranking at no. 7 in the country. In addition, Stetson earned its 11th overall NCAA postseason appearance and advanced to the Regional Finals before falling to eventual national champion Miami. Stetson's 43 victories marked the third-highest single-season total in school history and the first-ever back-to-back 40 win seasons for the Hatters.
Dunn turned in one of his best coaching performances during the 2000 season, guiding the Hatters to an Atlantic Sun Conference tournament title, a 48-16 record and an NCAA Regional appearance. The Hatters showed a 25-game improvement over 1999 and featured a pair of First-Team All-Americans in outfielder Frank Corr and pitcher Lenny DiNardo. Dunn was voted the league's Coach of the Year.
Dunn's vision and hard work also helped the Hatters build a stadium which has quickly garnered acclaim as one of the nation's finest collegiate facilities. Melching Field at Conrad Park, a $4.5 million stadium jointly built by Stetson University and the City of DeLand, opened on Feb. 12, 1999, as Stetson posted a 4-3 win over Louisville.
In the summer of 1998, Dunn served as an assistant coach for the USA National Team at the World Championships in Italy. Dunn spent the summer with Team USA, barnstorming North America and competing in the American championships in Nicaragua.
In his 29 years as head coach of the Hatters, Dunn has seen 67 of his players go on to the professional ranks. Last year Justin Bass and Brian Pruitt were drafted, while Nick Pugliese signed a free agent contract. In 2007 A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Corey Kluber was the team's top pick going in to the Padres in the 4th round. In 2003, Brian Snyder became Stetson's highest-ever draft pick when the Oakland A's selected him with the 26th overall pick in the first round. Snyder was just one of five Hatters drafted in 2003 and one of seven Hatters to turn pro over the summer.
Previously, pitcher Lenny DiNardo and outfielders Frank Corr and Jeff Christy were all selected in the 2001 Major League Baseball amateur draft. Former A-Sun Player of the Year Sammy Serrano was a second round selection of the San Francisco Giants in 1998. And in 1997, shortstop Kevin Nicholson also earned A-Sun Player of the Year honors and was subsequently drafted in the first round (27th pick) by the San Diego Padres.
Dunn has also had 25 athletes earn All-America honors, including Snyder, a Baseball America first-team selection in 2003. In 2002, Chris Westervelt became the first player in A-Sun history to be named an All-American (Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America) and an Academic All-American (CoSIDA) in the same season. Westervelt then repeated the accomplishment in 2004.
The Hatters have also produced 11 A-Sun Players of the Year under Dunn, more than any other conference team. Westervelt won the league's top honor for the second time in 2004.
As a tribute to what he has given Stetson throughout the years, Dunn was inducted into the Stetson University Sports Hall of Fame in January, 1992. He also received the 1996 Volusian Sportsperson of the Year award presented by the Daytona Beach News-Journal. And in honor of his 1,000th win, the City of DeLand proclaimed Opening Day 2007 (Feb. 9) as "Pete Dunn Day."
Dunn is actively involved in a variety of community service activities. He is a regular speaker at many regional and national coaching clinics.
At the baseball coaches' convention in 1997, Dunn was awarded a 25-year service award by the American Baseball Coaches' Association. Dunn also authored a chapter on catching in The Baseball Drill Book. The book was commissioned by the ABCA, edited by former Fresno State head coach Bob Bennett, and released in January, 2004.
Mark Leavitt begins his first season as an assistant coach at Stetson. He will take over the recruiting coordinator duties for the program. He will also coach the hitters and infielders, and make the move to the 3rd base coaching box during games.
Leavitt comes to the Hatters from Salisbury, Connecticut where he spent three years as the head baseball coach and associate director of admissions and financial aid for the Salisbury Prep School. In his first year, Leavitt led Salisbury to a perfect 20-0 record and a Western New England Prep School League Championship. Two of his players were drafted by major league baseball. In 2008 Anthony Hewitt was selected in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies (24th overall). Chris Dwyer was picked in the 36th round by the New York Yankees, and then again in 2009 when he was selected in the 4th round by the Kansas City Royals.
Leavitt graduated from Princeton University in 1988 after four years as a starter on the baseball team. He began his coaching career the following season as the head junior varsity coach and as an assistant with the Princeton varsity. Leavitt went on to work as an assistant coach at George Washington, Princeton (2nd time), James Madison, and George Mason.
As a college coach Leavitt recruited, signed, and coached over 40 players that went on to sign professional contracts and 17 players that went on to play in the major leagues.
Shifting gears professionally, Leavitt next took a position as an area scouting supervisor with the Montreal Expos (1997-2001). In 2001 he began a six-year stint with the Seattle Mariners scouting department as territorial supervisor, and then as a regional coordinator.
Some of Leavitt's additional coaching experience includes time as a Doyle Baseball School instructor, head coach of the Vienna Mavericks (Clark Griffith Collegiate Baseball League), head coach of the New Market Rebels (Valley Baseball League), assistant coach of the Chatham A's (Cape Cod League), head coach of the Harwich Mariners (Cape Cod League), and just last summer as head coach of the Clermont Mavericks (Florida Collegiate Summer League).
Leavitt is married to the former Christina Spada who graduated from UCF in 1988. The couple has two sons, Scott (age 8) and Ryan (age 6).
Chris Roberts begins his second year as pitching coach at Stetson. In addition to his responsibilities with the pitching staff Roberts will assist with recruiting and travel duties.
Roberts comes to the Hatters from UNC Greensboro where he served as the Spartans' pitching coach last season. Under Roberts' guidance, UNCG pitchers recorded 411 strikeouts, which was the highest single-season total since the Spartans tallied a program-best 495 in 2003. One of his pitchers Greg Martin was named to the Coaches All-Southern Conference second team in 2008.
Before moving on to UNC Greensboro Roberts spent four seasons as the pitching coach at NC State. While with the Wolfpack, Roberts had eight pitchers drafted in Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft. He coached two All-Americans at NC State and three first-team All-ACC pitchers. In 2003, Roberts' first season with the Wolfpack, NC State logged a team ERA of 3.67 - the program's best in 11 years.
Prior to joining the Wolfpack, Roberts spent two seasons at Western Carolina and one season as a volunteer at Flagler College in Florida. Roberts played his college baseball at Florida State, where he was a two-time All-American and played in the College World Series in 1991 and 1992. An outfielder and pitcher for the Seminoles, Roberts hit .321 as a sophomore and earned third-team All-American honors and Metro Conference Player of the Year with 14 home runs and 77 RBI. The following season, he was a second-team All-American with an 8-4 record and a 2.34 ERA as a pitcher, and 12 home runs and 59 RBI at the plate.
Roberts, a graduate of Florida State with played for Team USA in the 1991 Pan Am Games and was the starting left fielder for the USA Olympic squad in 1992 in Barcelona. He was selected by the New York Mets in the first round of the 1992 draft and played in the Mets organization from 1993-97. Roberts was regarded as a Top 10 prospect for the Mets and went 13-5 with a 2.75 ERA in his first season at Class-A St. Lucie, earning a spot in the Florida State League All-Star Game. He won 13 games again the following year at Class-AA Binghamton, helping the Mets to the Eastern League title.
Later in his pro career Roberts had one-year stints with Oakland (1998), Colorado (1999) and Milwaukee (2001), along with a season in the Japanese Pacific League (2000). He played on the Class-AAA level with New York, Oakland and Milwaukee before retiring from his playing career at the end of the 2001 season.