Sam Houston State University Baseball head coach Matt Deggs, who is approaching his fourth season with the Bearkats, is coming off one of the best seasons in program history that saw SHSU reach its first-ever Super Regional in program history. The Bearkats were also able to notch back-to-back 40-win regular seasons for the first time in program history.
Deggs looked back at last season’s team who got to that Super Regional but knows that there is still more work to be done.
“It was a great run,” Deggs said. “[We were] a very tough team, very resilient team that, as great of a finish as we had, encountered a lot of adversity and had to battle and fight their way back. They finished the season great and then we returned 23 guys from that team and they all understand where the bar is and what the expectation is.”
A baseball coach regularly epitomizes toughness: a grind-it-out kind of guy who is willing to take risks. Deggs fits that description exactly; however, the leader of the guys on the diamond is more than a stereotypical baseball coach. Deggs is also a motivational speaker and an author. In Deggs’ autobiography titled “15 to 28: A Story of God’s Love, Power and Redemption,” he talks about his spiritual journey from his previous experiences as an alcohol addict that forced him to be out of the game of baseball for 430 days to a changed man with a new way of life living through Jesus Christ. Deggs also travels and speaks to groups about his experiences in life and how people can have a better life themselves from what he has learned in his spiritual journey.
For Deggs, the book and motivational talks are a way for him to encourage others to learn from his experience.
“The book came about after the press conference and there was overwhelming support and [stories of] the lives that were impacted and touched,” Deggs said. “So, I wanted to write my testimony and was able to do that this fall and the Lord has just made a remarkable impact through that book. That and having the opportunity to go out and speak and spread his message of love and redemption and grace and salvation has just been a wonderful blessing and opportunity.”
One of the players that Deggs has had a big impact on was sophomore right-handed pitcher Hayden Wesneski, who in his first season with the Bearkats pitched to the tune of a 10-2 record with an earned run average of 3.80 in 13 starts.
For Wesneski, having Deggs to teach him is a great motivation to do great—not only on the field but in the classroom as well.
“He puts the word of God in your mind. It is something you think about. It is not just when you think about it and he motivates you. If you’ve ever heard him talk, it is something special. Especially on Twitter, it is very inspirational. I hear that every morning,” Wesneski said.
Deggs and the Sam Houston State Bearkats will open the season at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Don Sanders Stadium as SHSU takes on the Kent State Golden Flashes for Opening Day 2018.