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Maroon sweeps Gold in fall "Blood" Series!
The Maroon Team completed the sweep of the ULM baseball Maroon & Gold "Blood Series" with an 11-3 victory over the Gold Team Tuesday night at Warhawk Field. As the losers of the series, the members of the Gold Team will donate blood to the Lifeshare Blood Center.
ULM retires the jerseys of former standouts Chuck Finley and Ben Sheets!
Sheets, who played at the university from 1997-1999, and Chuck Finley, who played at the university from 1984-1985, were honored in a jersey retirement reception.
The only other baseball jersey retired at ULM was #24, which belonged to Coach Lou St. Amant, who coached Finley while at the university.
Charged with restoring a proud baseball tradition at ULM, head coach Jeff Schexnaider has accepted the challenge and answered the call through his first four seasons at the helm of the Warhawk program.
Schexnaider, the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, guided the Warhawks to a Sun Belt regular season conference championship in just his second season. He followed that success by leading the Warhawks to the 2009 Sun Belt Tournament Championship Game. ULM's march to the title game featured an elimination game against third-seed and host Troy and two elimination games against regular season co-champion Western Kentucky.
Those two accomplishments are elevated by the fact that the Sun Belt consistently ranks among the top seven conferences in the NCAA based on RPI. Schexnaider has amassed a 112-117 record in his four seasons on the Bayou.
During his four seasons as ULM's skipper, the Warhawks have posted the three highest home run totals in school history. In fact, ULM combined for more home runs in 2008 and 2009 (178) than it did in the four seasons (2003-06 - 153 home runs) before Schexnaider took over the club.
The Warhawks put together their most successful back-to-back seasons since the 2000 and 2001 campaigns with a combined 66 victories in 2008 and 2009. Over the past three seasons the Warhawks have knocked off four ranked teams - all on the road - including a victory over No. 5 Arkansas in 2009. ULM became the first team to defeat Ole Miss on opening day since 1981 when it defeated the No. 17 Rebels 6-5 to open the 2010 season. ULM defeated a pair of teams that advanced to the 2009 College World Series - Arkansas and Southern Miss - and came within two extra-inning losses of sweeping their series against both schools.
The offensive and defensive transformation under Schexnaider has been remarkable to say the least. ULM has posted the top two team batting averages, the top two hits totals, two of the top three runs scored totals, two of the top three doubles totals, the top two RBI totals, two of the top four fielding percentage totals and the top two double plays turned totals in school history.
Under his guidance Ben Soignier became one of the best players in ULM history and one of the best players in the NCAA. Soignier, who is ULM's only three-time All-American, holds the ULM career records for at-bats, hits, doubles and total bases, while ranking second in runs scored, third in home runs, third in RBIs, fourth in stolen bases and 10th in saves.
ULM has had a player earn All-America honors in each of the last three seasons under Schexnaider's guidance. Judd Edwards joined the list of elite players in Warhawk history in 2010 when Ping!Baseball tabbed him to their Freshman All-America squad.
Two Warhawks have been selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player's Draft in three of Schexnaider's four seasons as head coach.
The 2009 Warhawks featured a trio of All-Sun Belt selections and Boomer Blanchard was named Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year. Blanchard tallied the second most hits in a single-season in ULM history in addition to scoring the third most runs and accumulating the seventh most total bases.
ULM finished 18th in the country in double plays turned (64), 27th in runs scored (485), 29th in home runs (85), 33rd in slugging percentage (.519), 34th in hits (685) and 38th in batting average (.325).
In 2008, the Schexnaider led Warhawks set school records in hits (697), doubles (139), home runs (93), RBIs (465), total bases (1,141) and double plays turned (76). ULM finished just one run shy of the runs scored record and finished the season leading the NCAA in double plays turned per game averaging 2.71.
Under his guidance, Soignier earned All-America honors from both Louisville Slugger and Ping!Baseball. Soignier and Dexter Fontenot were named first team all-conference, while Kyle Suire and Ryan McMillan were tabbed to the second team. Fontenot also earned ProLine National Hitter of the Week honors during the 2008 season.
Fontenot set the single-season school record with 67 RBIs, while Soignier set records in runs scored (83), hits (93) and total bases (166). Soignier finished as the NCAA leader in runs per game (1.29).
The Warhawks finished the season ranked in the top 25 nationally in 11 different categories: batting average (16th), runs per game (10th), total runs (22nd), hits (22nd), doubles per game (16th), doubles (22nd), home runs per game (8th), home runs (13th), slugging percentage (7th), double plays turned per game (1st) and double plays turned (2nd).
In his first season, Schexnaider led ULM to a 29-28 overall record and a 15-14 mark in the Sun Belt, finishing just a half game out of second place in the seventh best league in the nation. The Warhawks set the then school home run record with 70 on the season, passing the previous mark of 62 set in 1986; a team for which Schexnaider played and hit seven home runs.
The Warhawks finished the season ranked 14th in the NCAA averaging 1.23 home runs per game and 28th in the nation with a slugging percentage of .477. Under his direction, David Mixon finished 73rd in the NCAA with eight saves.
Schexnaider's presence was felt immediately when Soignier was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-America Team following the 2006 season. The shortstop, who played for Schexnaider at West Monroe High School, hit .348 with five home runs, 10 doubles, one triple and 30 RBIs.
Schexnaider took over the reins of the Warhawks midway through the 2006 campaign, coaching the final 42 games of the season. ULM started the season 0-13 prior to Schexnaider taking control of the team. When Schexnaider took charge of the program, the Warhawks went 18-24 over the course of the season.
His return to the program signaled the beginning of a new era for the ULM baseball program not only on the field, but also with large scale improvements to Warhawk Field.
Since taking over as head coach, Schexnaider led improvements to the facility have included the creation of an outfield student section, improvements to both home and visitor dugouts, a three foot brick wall enclosing the playing field down both foul lines, new patio areas down both the right and left field lines, upgrades to the locker room, a new exterior fence and a children's playground down the right-field line.
Prior to the 2011 season, additional improvements were made to the ULM locker room and the Warhawk Field press box was renovated in preparation for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
After graduating from ULM, Schexnaider spent two seasons as a graduate assistant for the Warhawks under legendary coach Lou St. Amant, before embarking on a head coaching career at the Louisiana high school level. Schexnaider's head coaching career began at his former high school, Catholic High in Baton Rouge, La. From there, he coached for four years at Ouachita Parish High, during which time he led OPHS to a district championship in 1992.
His early head coaching success landed him the head coaching position at West Monroe High School. During his ten years at West Monroe, Schexnaider built the Rebels into one of the state's top programs.
Schexnaider led West Monroe to 10 consecutive district championships and an appearance in the 1996 5A State Championship Game. The Rebels made a return trip to the Louisiana State Championship Game three years later in 1998, this time bringing home the hardware. All told, in Schexnaider's career at West Monroe, he led teams to two state title games and to five state semifinals.
Schexnaider was named Louisiana State Coach of the Year on four different occasions, received 2-5A District Coach of the Year 10 times, was the head coach of the Louisiana High School Baseball All-Star Team and served as the vice-president of the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association.
He has long been one of the most avid supporters of baseball in the area, promoting the game whenever the opportunity presents itself. He has become one of the most popular speakers at various baseball organizations as well as coach's clinics throughout Louisiana.
Schexnaider returned to the college ranks in 2005 as an assistant coach on the Warhawk staff.
His playing career at ULM began in the 1985 season as an infielder after two seasons at Gulf Coast Community College. He played for the Warhawks for two seasons, posting a team-high .342 batting average in 1986.
He received both his bachelor's degree and master's degree from ULM. He earned a B.S. in health education in 1987 and a M.S. in education in 1989.
Associate Head Coach
Justin Hill begins his first season as the associate head coach and pitching coach at ULM following a highly successful four-year stint at Southeastern Louisiana.
Hill, who played and coached for ULM head coach Jeff Schexnaider at West Monroe High School, also served as SLU's recruiting coordinator.
Hill just completed his fourth season as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions averaged 36 wins per year during his tenure, including a school record 40-win season in 2010 - SLU opened the season 11-0 which included a season opening sweep of Mississippi State. SLU was ranked for a Southland Conference record eight straight weeks and peaked at No. 17 after winning 22 of its first 25 games.
Eight Southeastern Louisiana players were drafted during Hill's tenure and a total of 24 players coached by Hill during his career have been selected in the Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Under Hill's guidance, the Lions ranked among the best pitching staffs in the Southland Conference. In 2011, SLU finished the year with a staff ERA of 3.91 and walked a league-low 159 batters in 494.2 innings (2.9/9 innings). Tyler Watkins was named the Louisiana Pitcher of the Year after going 10-4 with a 3.26 ERA. The 2010 staff put together a 4.29 ERA (before the bats were deadened) and issued just 3.4 walks per nine innings.
The 2008 Lion pitching staff led the Southland Conference in team ERA (4.26) and strikeouts (481) while also taking the individual crowns in both categories. That year, Wade Miley became the highest drafted student-athlete in school history when the Arizona Diamondbacks selected him with the 43rd overall pick in the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft.
The 2009 staff saw the emergence of reliever Chris Franklin as one of the top closers in the country as the junior set a school record with 12 saves and earned All-America honors. For the third consecutive year, SLU produced an All-American as Jordan Hymel earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors by finishing 7-1 on the mound in 2010.
Hill spent the 2007 season at Sam Houston State and helped oversee a team that went 40-24, won the Southland Conference Tournament, and advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals against Ole Miss after SHSU eliminated Southern Miss and Troy. The Bearkats posted the most wins by the program in 20 years, broke or tied 16 all-time program records and produced nine All-Southland Conference selections and two first team All-Americans.
With Hill's help Bearkat closer Luke Prihoda won the 2007 NCBWA Stopper of the Year award. Prihoda posted a 7-3 record with a 1.16 ERA, broke the school and conference record for saves, and led the nation with 18 saves. He was also named a first team All-American, the Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, and the SLC Student-Athlete of the Year.
Hill spent the 2006 season at LSU as an assistant coach under Smoke Laval. The Tigers finished 35-24 in Hill's lone season in Baton Rouge, producing three Major League draft picks, a free agent signee, and a freshman All-American.
He spent the 2004 and 2005 seasons on current Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard's staff at Northwestern State. In 2005, the Demons went 41-20, won the Southland Conference Championship, and earned an at-large bid to the 2005 NCAA Regionals in Baton Rouge. The 2005 Demons produced two freshmen All-Americans and two Major League draft picks.
Hill began his coaching career in 2003 at his alma mater, West Monroe High School, as an assistant on current Schexnaider's staff helping the Rebels to a district title.
During his playing days, Hill pitched at LSU for the legendary Skip Bertman. A two-year letterwinner and academic All-SEC performer in 2001, Hill was also part of the Tigers' 2001 and 2002 NCAA Regional Championship teams.
Hill appeared in 19 games in his final season at LSU, throwing 19 innings while compiling a 1-1 record with two saves and 27 strikeouts before a shoulder injury cut short his year.
Hill began his playing career at Mississippi Delta Community College before transferring to Bossier Parish Community College.
At BPCC, Hill recorded a 7-2 mark and a 3.74 ERA with a school-record 102 strikeouts in 77 innings, while limiting opponents to a .199 batting average. He was an All-Region 23 and All-conference performer and was also a member of the Dean's List.
The West Monroe native graduated from LSU in 2002 and earned his master's degree from Northwestern State in 2005.
Cory Barton returns for his third season as an assistant coach at ULM after helping lead the Warhawks to one of their top offensive seasons in school history in 2009. Barton joined the ULM staff in September 2008 after two seasons as an assistant coach at Memphis and a two-year playing career with the Tigers.
In his first season as ULM's hitting coach, the Warhawks posted the second highest batting average (.325), second most hits (685), second most RBIs (437), second most home runs (85), third most runs (485), third most at-bats (2,109) and third most doubles (126) in school history.
In addition, Ben Soignier set the single-season RBI record with 71 and Boomer Blanchard recorded the second most hits (87) and third most runs (71) in ULM single-season history. Jon Prevost belted 15 home runs to rank fourth in ULM history for a single-season and Soignier tallied 142 total bases, also fourth best.
The Warhawks advanced to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship Game in his first season knocking off third-seeded Troy and regular season co-champion Western Kentucky on the way.
Barton's role shifted to recruiting coordinator prior to the 2010 season. He still maintains that position moving forward, but will also resume his role working with the Warhawk batters.
Barton dipped into his home state of Alabama to sign Judd Edwards prior to the 2010 season. Little did he know that Edwards would become the 30th All-American in ULM baseball history as he was named to the 2010 Ping!Baseball Freshman All-America Team.
A two-year letterwinner behind the plate for Memphis in the 2005-06 seasons, Barton played in 94 games, making 86 starts. The 2006 Tiger co-captain hit six home runs and drove in 49 runs.
During his coaching career at Memphis, Barton assisted with the Tiger hitters and served as the bullpen coach. He was also in charge of maintaining contact with the area high school coaches.
Upon completing his eligibility, Barton, a native of Trussville, Ala., graduated from Memphis with a sport management degree in May 2007.
Barton has also spent time in the coaching ranks as the assistant coach of the Danville Dans of the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL) after his senior season at Memphis in the summer of 2006. As the hitters and catchers coach, Barton helped the Dans to the CICL regular season championship and a tournament runner-up finish.
He undertook his first head coaching position in the summer of 2007 as the skipper of the Bama Bombers, a high school travel team that consisted of some of the best talent in the southeast.
Prior to coming to Memphis, Barton won two letters behind the plate for Shelton State where he was a second team All-Alabama Community College Conference performer and led SSCC to a North Division crown in 2004.
Volunteer Assistant Coach
Jim Rushworth begins his first season as the volunteer assistant coach at ULM following a three-year stint at Sterlington High School where he served as the Panthers' head coach the last two seasons. Sterlington advanced to the Louisiana 2A State Championship Game in 2009 and 2010 under Rushworth's leadership.
Prior to Sterlington, Rushworth was the head coach at Leesville High School from 2004-08. Among the standout players he groomed at Leesville was pitcher Justin Cryer who went on to play at Ole Miss before being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rushworth spent four seasons (2000-03) at DeRidder High School where he coached MLB fourth-round draft pick Josh Rainwater. He began his high school head coaching career in 1999 with his first stint at Leesville following one year at Panola Junior College (1997) and one year at West Monroe High School (1996).
He played professionally for the Montreal Expos organization from 1991 to 1996 after posting a 5-1 record with a 3.35 ERA at Florida State in 1991. Before becoming a Seminole, Rushworth pitched at Panola JC.
Rushworth is married to the former Jennifer Edwards and the couple has two children, Morgan (15) and Brooks (12). He completed his degree at ULM in 1998.
A lifelong Warhawk, Phil Keifenheim is in his seventh season as a volunteer assistant and camp coordinator for the ULM baseball team.
Keifenheim promotes the ULM baseball team by serving as its camp coordinator, as well as organizing and directing the events for the ULM coaching staff.
A lifelong educator, Keifenheim hosts at least three camps a year for area youth and Warhawk fans. His annual fall holiday camps and summer camps have not only been great successes for ULM, they have provided the Northeast Louisiana community with an affordable opportunity for its youth to learn the game of baseball.
A 29-year veteran of the game of baseball, he lettered at ULM in 1979 and 1980. Currently, Keifenheim is in his 30th year of teaching economics at West Monroe High School. During his tenure with the Rebels, he has coached baseball, football, basketball, softball and tennis.
A native of Mount Calvary, Wisc., Keifenheim and his wife, Jane, live in West Monroe. The couple has two daughters, Amy and Jill.