Having cemented UNCP as one of the perennial contenders in the always-tough Peach Belt Conference with 30-win seasons in each of the last 11 years, including a record-breaking 44-12 campaign in 2011, Paul O’Neil will begin his 16th season at the helm of the Braves in 2015-16, having assumed his current position as head coach prior to the 2001 campaign. O’Neil also serves the department as an associate athletics director.
Despite capturing his 500th career victory in the midst of another 30-win season with the Black and Gold in 2014, O’Neil’s accomplishments have been multi-faceted over the course of his 20-year collegiate head coaching career. He has provided tutelage to a bevy of outstanding talent on the field, including 14 all-Americans, 40 all-region standouts and 54 all-conference selections. In addition, he has been involved in the molding of 29 Major League Baseball draftees, including two at his current stop.
Having attained the distinction of UNCP’s all-time winningest coach in 2011, O’Neil’s teams have shattered nearly 90 percent of the existing program records in Pembroke, including 11 marks over the last eight years. His tutelage with the Black and Gold has produced 13 all-Americans, nine preseason all-Americans, 29 all-region honorees and 47 all-Peach Belt Conference laurels. In addition to the on-field recognition, the UNCP baseball team has produced more than 100 PBC Academic Honor Roll awards and has participated in several community service projects in the Robeson County area.
Boasting a track record of success at each of his previous coaching stops in the Mountain East Conference, Jeff Jefferson begins his first season as an assistant coach with the UNCP baseball team in 2014-15.
Jefferson trekked to Pembroke from Shepherdstown, W.Va., after spending the 2014 season as an assistant coach at Shepherd.
No stranger to success, Jefferson served an integral part of a coaching staff that helped lead Shepherd to a 39-14 record last season that included a Mountain East regular season championship and a trip to the NCAA Atlantic Regional. The Rams led the Mountain East in 18 different statistical categories, including batting average (.330), home runs (28) and scoring (6.9 runs/game). The 2014 squad also featured a pair of all-Americans in catcher Spencer Wolfe and outfielder Michael Lott.
After logging time as a key player for the UNC Pembroke baseball team from 2009-12, Alex Pearce enters his second season on the Braves coaching staff as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season. A former catcher and pitcher, Pearce will work primarily with the catchers, while also assisting with recruiting, camp coordination and field maintenance. He will also serve as the first base coach on game days.
A Rocky Mount native, Pearce was a defensive standout for the Braves, compiling nearly 600 putouts and committing just 11 errors in 669 career defensive chances. He played in 105 games over his four-year career in the Black & Gold, including 45 games behind the dish in UNCP’s run to the 2011 Peach Belt Conference Tournament title, as well as the first NCAA postseason berth in school history.
Pearce hung up his catcher’s mitt in favor of a spot on the mound as a senior and did not disappoint. He made 13 starts for the Braves in 2012 and tallied a team-best eight wins (8-4) and a 3.00 ERA, while also striking out 54 batters in 86-1/3 innings of work. All told, he helped the Braves to nearly 150 wins (145-62) during his tenure in Pembroke.