SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Head coach Reggie Christiansen has announced his staff heading into fall practice and the 2017 Hornet baseball season.
Jake Angier, who has been an assistant coach for Christiansen since 2014, will serve as the pitching coach. Former Hornet Andrew Ayers will also be an assistant coach after serving as the team's director of operations last season.
Former coach Tommy Nicholson will also return to the program as a volunteer assistant and former Hornet and MLB first round draft pick Tim Wheeler will serve as the team's undergraduate assistant.
"I believe we have put together an All-Star staff for the 2017 season," Christiansen said. "Our players are going to love the energy that this group will bring with them to the ballpark every day."
Angier came to Sacramento State after coaching stints at North Dakota State and South Dakota State, his alma mater. In his young coaching career Angier has helped mentor three pitchers that reached the major leagues in Caleb Thielbar, Blake Treinen and Layne Somsen.
"Coach Angier was the coach that I had never had at the time I met him," said Treinen, a reliever with the Washington Nationals. "His ability to push my talent both physically and mentally allowed me to be in a position to have success and further my career. I'm very grateful to have someone who cared about my personal goals as I did and that took the time to invest in helping make them become a reality."
In his three seasons at Sacramento State the Hornets have put together three record-breaking years, including the first WAC Tournament title and NCAA Div. I regional appearance and win in program history. The Hornets have gone 103-79 overall and 53-28 in the Western Athletic Conference in Angier's three years with the program.
In his new role Ayers will coach third base and work with the infielders and hitters along with assisting with recruiting. Before returning to the Hornets last season he was the recruiting coordinator at Yavapai Community College in 2015, with many of the players that he recruited helping the program win the NJCAA World Series last year.
A four-year Hornet starter, Ayers left Sacramento State as the program's all-time leader in career at-bats and was second in career hits and runs. He was named WAC Player of the Year as a junior and an ABCA/Rawlings all-West Region selection, becoming the first player in program history to earn both honors. As a junior he hit .336 with 36 runs, three home runs and 31 RBIs overall while hitting .427 in WAC play and leading the league with 32 hits, 18 RBIs, and a .627 slugging percentage in conference games.
Ayers also earned all-WAC second team honors and was an all-WAC Tournament selection as a senior in 2013 as he led the team with 47 RBIs and 41 runs and tied for the team lead with 10 home runs. He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 30th round of the 2013 MLB Draft and played one season of professional baseball.
Nicholson returns for his second stint on the Hornet coaching staff, having served as the team's infield and hitting coach for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He left Sacramento State to join the staff at Texas, his alma mater, where he was an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator for the Longhorns for the last four seasons.
Nicholson had a stellar playing career with the Longhorns, hitting .327 for his career and being named team MVP twice. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 11th round of the 2000 MLB Draft and played six years of pro ball, reaching the Triple-A level in both the White Sox and Colorado Rockies organizations.
"Tommy is a coach that helped me understand who I was as a player, but more importantly he is a great person," said former Hornet Rhys Hoskins, who Nicholson helped become a Freshman All-American in 2012. "The way he connects with his players and gets the most out of them is something that is immeasurable. The program will benefit tremendously and the players will be lucky to have him around like I was as a freshman."
"I can't say enough about how Tommy helped me develop as an infielder and as a player. I am excited for the players and program to have Tommy back with the Hornets," former Hornet shortstop Scotty Burcham said.
Another former Hornet and Triple-A baseball player, Wheeler returns to his alma mater after concluding a seven-year professional career that saw him play four seasons for the Rockies' top minor league affiliate. In his tremendous career as a Hornet Wheeler was the program's first All-American since 1997 and was the first player in program history to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft when he was selected by the Rockies in 2009.
Wheeler, a native of Sacramento, hit .385 with 18 home runs and 72 runs batted in in 2009, setting the school's single season RBI record in the process. He was named All-America by four different publications, which included second team honors from both Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association. His 142 career RBIs - recorded in just three seasons as a Hornet - remains the all-time program record.
"Ayers and Wheeler are Hornets and have a tremendous amount of pride for the program. Tim will coach the outfielders as well as base-running and our short game offense," Christiansen added. "We are extremely lucky to bring Tommy back to Sacramento, as he was responsible for the recruitment of most of our 2014 NCAA regional team and is an outstanding hitting and infield coach. Our players will love his approach to the game."
The team's support staff for 2017 includes Daniel Deo, who will serve as director of operations and director of camps in his third season working with the program. Also returning is trainer Erin Snyder and the team will continue to work with strength coaches Byran Francis and Bryan Washington.
"We are all looking forward to putting the interests of our players first and foremost and helping them achieve their dreams both individually and as a team," Christiansen said. "I can't wait to get started."