Sean Lyons returns to the SIUE dugout for his second season as the Cougars' head coach in 2018. Finishing at 23-29, Lyons established a new school record for wins by a first-year head coach in 2017.
In his first season in charge, Lyons oversaw a 14-win improvement from the previous season, marking the 13th largest turnaround in the NCAA.
The Cougars' turnaround came largely from a much-improved offense. SIUE enjoyed its best offensive season since the move to NCAA Division I in 2009. The Cougars combined for a .293 batting average, which was the team's highest average since 2010. In OVC play, the average jumped to .316, which was third best in the league.
SIUE's 530 hits were second most in the Division I era, and the Cougars' 340 hits during conference play ranked third in the OVC. The Cougars slugged .439 for the year and reached base at a .379 clip, both program highs for the Division I era.
The Cougars scored 335 runs, hit 53 home runs and drove in 319 runs, all Division I era-bests and all despite playing fewer games than several previous seasons.
Under Lyons guidance, several players enjoyed breakout seasons at the plate. Sophomore catcher Brock Weimer earned first team All-OVC honors after leading the team with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs. His 15 home runs tied SIUE's single-season record.
Senior second baseman Alec Skender ranked fourth in the OVC with a .388 batting average to earn second team All-OVC honors. His average was just one point off the Division I-era school record. He finished the year with 83 hits, which is the most in school history in the Divison I-era.
Redshirt-freshman Eric Giltz hit .302 for the year, on his way to earning an OVC All-Freshman team selection. Giltz hit .340 during OVC play.
Senior slugger Keaton Wright (.317) and junior Dustin Woodcock (.330) each hit over .300 for the season while establishing new career highs in RBIs. Wright drove in 43 runs, while hitting a career-best 12 home runs. Woodcock knocked in 42 runs and tied his career high with six homers.
In total, six players among the regulars hit .300 or better for the season.
Defense also proved to be a strong suit for the Cougars. SIUE led the OVC and finished 30th in the NCAA with a .979 fielding percentage. As a team, the Cougars committed just 40 errors in 1,870 total chances. SIUE turned 48 double plays which was second most in the Division I era.
Prior to coming to SIUE, Lyons was the associate head coach at Bradley. Named as the Cougars' head coach in June 2016, he is the fourth head coach in SIUE baseball history.
The native of Byron, Illinois, spent seven total seasons on the Bradley staff where he served as recruiting coordinator and hitting instructor. The 2016 season was his first as the program’s associate head coach. In his final season at Bradley, the Braves ranked No. 9 nationally averaging 2.32 doubles per game. The Braves were third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a .283 batting average and 116 doubles.
In 2015, Bradley earned an at-large berth to the NCAA championship, and the Braves’ .311 batting average was the best team mark for the tournament.
Lyons recruited and coached nine Major League Baseball draft picks, coached four Louisville Slugger Freshman All-Americans, and 14 first or second team All-MVC selections while at Bradley. Under Lyons, Mike Tauchman was tabbed as the 2013 Joe Carter MVC Player of the Year.
No stranger to the Ohio Valley Conference, Lyons spent six seasons on the Eastern Illinois staff before moving to Bradley. The Panthers won the OVC tournament title in 2008 and were OVC regular season champions in 2009. Also in 2009, the Panthers ranked second in the nation in hitting with a .362 batting average.
At EIU, Lyons coached seven MLB draft picks, three Freshman All-Americans and eight OVC first team members.
Lyons played for Eastern Illinois from 1996-1999, leading the Panthers in hits for three straight seasons. He was selected as one of Eastern Illinois’ 20 greatest OVC athletes during the Panthers’ celebration of their first 20 years in the OVC.
He earned a Bachelor of Science from EIU in 1999.
Lyons and his wife Jill have a daughter, Maleah and a son, Landry.
What they said about Sean Lyons:
“Sean is a tremendous human being. He is a great coach, but a better person. I was blessed to have him here as long as I did. He’s a rising star. He’ll pour his heart and soul into that program. There are great days ahead for SIUE.”
Elvis Dominguez, head baseball coach, Bradley
“I said it when I introduced Sean for the Hall of Fame at Eastern Illinois - the two eras in which we won at EIU, Sean was involved either as a player or as a coach. Sean is a winner. He’s a great character guy. He is a great motivator and a great recruiter, but above all he is a winner. SIUE has gotten a really good person and a great family. I’m excited for Sean and excited for the program.”
Jim Schmitz, former head baseball coach, Eastern Illinois
“As an alum, I’d like to welcome Sean Lyons to SIUE. He will certainly energize the program. He is a great recruiter who knows how to win and how to build a program and he will engage the SIUE community.”
Darin Hendrickson, head baseball coach, Saint Louis, SIUE baseball alumnus
“As a member of the search committee, I saw the whole process. We had a lot of great interest as we should have. This is a phenomenal job. We had it down to two great finalists. I’m excited to have Sean on board. I think he’ll do an amazing job. I’m excited for him to get started.”
Chad Opel, SIUE baseball alumnus, Athletics Hall of Fame member