Rob Childress, Texas A&M Aggies Baseball

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One of the top pitching coaches and recruiters in the country, Rob Childress enters his 13th season as the head coach of the Texas A&M baseball program. Childress has led A&M to a school-record 11 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, six NCAA Regional titles, two conference regular-season crowns, four league tournament titles and the 2011 and 2017 College World Series.

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Sophomore Braden Shewmake will be a major contributor to the Aggie lineup again in 2018.

In 2017, the Aggies were a young team that endured several highs and lows. The Texas A&M baseball team entered the Houston Regional having lost eight of its previous 10 games but emerged victorious by defeating Baylor, Iowa and host Houston. The Aggies proceeded to outlast Davidson in the College Station Super Regional, including a 15-inning contest in the lidlifter, to advance to Omaha for the sixth time in program history.

The 2016 Aggies earned their first-ever SEC Tournament crown with a 12-5 victory over No. 1 Florida in the championship game. Texas A&M finished the season with a 49-16 record, including a four-week stretch in which the Maroon and White won 10 of 14 games against squads ranked in the Top 10. The Aggies finished third in the SEC with a 20-10 and captured their eighth NCAA Regional trophy. The magical campaign included Kyle Simonds’ complete-game no-hitter against Vanderbilt, a top 10 squad.

The 2015 squad started the season with an SEC-record 24-game win streak en route to a 50-14 campaign, the highest victory tally for the Aggies since 1999. The Maroon and White finished third in the SEC with an 18-10 league ledger and won their seventh NCAA Regional title. The Aggies came up one run shy of the College World Series, dropping game three of a Super Regional against TCU, 5-4, in 16 innings.

The 2015 campaign was one of the best coaching performances Childress has put in, as his pitching staff posted a 3.04 ERA (22nd in the nation) despite losing two weekend starters for most of the season. Matt Kent and Grayson Long, who both posted 9-1 records on the year, went on to get drafted, along with A.J. Minter, who went 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA in four starts before succumbing to a season-ending injury. The Aggies had four different players earn All-America honors on the year, including Grayson Long, Logan Taylor, Nick Banks and Blake Allemand.

In 2014, Childress guided the Aggies through their second season in the Southeastern Conference, securing a spot in the SEC Tournament for the second consecutive year and earning a bid to a school-record eighth consecutive NCAA Championship.

In Texas A&M’s first run through the SEC in 2013, Childress led A&M to the final six of the SEC Tournament and a seventh straight NCAA Championship. The Gilmer, Texas, native’s expertise as a pitching coach is evident and has made an immediate impact. A&M’s pitching staff ranked first or second in the rugged Big 12 in earned run average in each of his seven seasons in the league, including a Big 12-best 2.92 team ERA in 2012.

College baseball

Rob Childress, Texas A&M head coach

During the 2012 campaign, Childress guided the Aggies to a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament as A&M hosted an NCAA Regional in College Station for the second straight season.

In 2011, Childress captured co-Big 12 Coach of the Year honors as he led the Aggies to another milestone campaign as he guided the squad back to college baseball’s promised land of Omaha, Nebraska, and the College World Series. The trip to Omaha was the fifth in program history and capped off another successful run in the NCAA Tournament.

The 2011 Texas A&M baseball team also claimed the 23rd conference championship in program history as it brought home both the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles before emerging victorious in both the College Station Regional and Tallahassee Super Regional.

Additionally, the 2011 squad finished 14th in the country with a 2.90 team ERA, the Aggies’ lowest since 1990 (2.80) while Childress’ 2010 staff ranked 13th nationally at 3.70–the highest finish by an A&M staff in 16 years before last season.

Three members of the Texas A&M baseball team (Tyler Naquin, Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha) garnered All-America honors in 2011. Naquin was also named Big 12 Player of the Year while both Stripling and Wacha excelled on the mound under Childress’ tutelage. Stripling blossomed during his third year in the A&M program as he led the nation in wins by turning in a 14-2 campaign with a 2.29 ERA.

Additionally, outfielder Krey Bratsen earned Freshman All-America accolades in his first season as a part of Childress’ program.

During the 2011 season, Childress and the Aggies also accomplished something never done before in the program’s 109-year history by earning a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The 2011 campaign also saw Texas A&M claim 47 victories to surpass the 40-win plateau for the fourth time in five seasons.

Under Childress’ guidance the 2010 Aggies once again ascended to the top of the Big 12 as they claimed another conference crown under Childress’ direction when A&M won the league’s postseason tournament. Along the way the Aggie pitching staff, led by All-Americans Barret Loux and John Stilson, ranked as one of the country’s best, finishing atop the Big 12 and second nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (9.3). The Aggies’ 612 strikeouts set a school record, topping the previous year’s total of 568.

In 2009, Childress guided the Aggies to 37 wins and another trip to the postseason. The pitching staff set a then-school record with 568 strikeouts, leading the Big 12 and finishing seventh nationally with an average of 9.5 per nine innings.

Named the Big 12’s Coach of the Year by his peers in 2008, Childress guided the Aggies to 46 wins, their first regular-season championship in nine years and the first back-to-back NCAA regional championships in school history. Along the way, A&M set a new school and Big 12 record by winning 16 straight conference games.

After just one season at the helm, Childress orchestrated the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division I baseball. His 2007 team finished 48-19, winning 23 more games than in 2006, in addition to claiming the NCAA College Station Regional championship, a berth in the Super Regionals and the school’s first Big 12 title since 1999.

Childress was named the 19th head baseball coach in school history on June 21, 2005, after spending the previous eight seasons at Nebraska–the first five as an assistant under current Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn and the last three as an assistant to Mike Anderson. In those eight seasons, the Huskers made the NCAA Tournament five times, advanced to the Super Regionals four times and made three appearances in the College World Series (2001, 2002 and 2005).

Under his tutelage, 61 pitchers were drafted or signed as free agents over the last 19 seasons. In the last 10 years, 22 Aggie pitchers have been selected in the first 14 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft (Austin Creps, sixth round in 2006; David Newmann, fourth round, Kyle Nicholson, seventh round and Gary Campfield, 12th round in 2007; Kyle Thebeau, ninth round, and Alex Wilson, 10th round in 2008; Alex Wilson, second round, and Brooks Raley, sixth round in 2009; Barrett Loux, first round in 2010; John Stilson, third round, and Ross Stripling, ninth round, in 2011; Michael Wacha, first round and Ross Stripling, fifth round, in 2012; Kyle Martin, ninth round, in 2013; Daniel Mengden, fourth round and Corey Ray, fifth round in 2014; A.J. Minter, second round, Grayson Long, third round, and Matt Kent, 13th round in 2015; Jace Vines, fourth round, Ryan Hendrix and Mark Ecker, fifth round, Andrew Vinson, 10th round, and Kyle Simonds, 14th round in 2016.

Childress was a collegiate assistant coach for 14 seasons, including 10 years at the Division I level. He spent seven seasons at Nebraska overseeing the pitching staff and the Husker recruiting efforts after serving with Van Horn at Northwestern State from 1995 to 1997.

As a pitching coach, Childress has constructed his pitching staffs into some of the best in the nation. The Nebraska pitching staff also turned in the top five single-season strikeout totals in school history under Childress’ watch, including a school-record 538 strikeouts in 2005, while issuing fewer than three walks per game in his final five seasons in Lincoln.

In 2005, Childress’ staff at Nebraska finished the season with a team ERA of 2.69, ranking in the top five nationally and at the top of the Big 12. In 2004, Nebraska tied for second in the Big 12 and was 25th nationally with a 3.76 ERA. In 2003, the Husker pitching staff guided Nebraska to 47 wins and the school’s second Big 12 regular-season title in three years. The Huskers ranked second in the Big 12 with a 3.79 ERA, while ranking first or second in the league in seven categories, including a league-high five shutouts.

Nebraska’s pitching depth carried the Huskers to 47 wins and a second straight College World Series appearance in 2002. The Huskers finished second in the Big 12 and 15th nationally with a 3.66 team ERA, while ranking first or second in the league in four categories, including ERA, complete games (nine, first), shutouts (five, second) and opposing batting average (.250, second).

The Husker pitching staff was instrumental in leading NU to its first regular-season conference title in 51 years in 2001 and in 2000, the Huskers led the nation with a 3.14 ERA. In 1999, the Huskers posted a 5.50 ERA, the lowest NU mark since 1994 at the time, and struck out a then-school-record 438 batters in 526 2/3 innings of action. Despite joining the staff 34 days before the 1998 season opener, Childress’ impact was immediate, as Husker pitchers allowed just 236 earned runs, the fewest in seven years, and lowered the team ERA by nearly a run per game.

In his final season as the pitching coach at Northwestern State in 1997, Childress’ staff had a 4.20 ERA and held opponents to a .268 batting average. He coached former major leaguer Brian Lawrence, who became the first Demon baseball player to reach the Major Leagues since 1954. In 1996, the Demons’ staff owned a 4.66 ERA and held opponents to a .259 batting average. At Northwestern State, Childress handled the pitching coach duties, and was also responsible for recruiting, field maintenance, fund-raising, academic advisement and coordinating camps.

Childress and Van Horn first teamed up at Texarkana College during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. During that span, the Bulldogs were 93-22, winning the league title in 1991. Following the two seasons as an assistant at Texarkana, Childress was an assistant coach at his alma mater Northwood University. In 1994, he returned to Texarkana as the head coach and finished with an impressive 43-10 record in his only season as coach.

Before his coaching career, Childress, who graduated from Harmony High School in Gilmer, Texas, attended Northwood where he was twice named an all-conference pitcher. Northwood won two NAIA conference championships during his career and was runner-up at the regional tournament once. Childress was elected the school’s Academic Athlete of the Year as a sophomore and senior.

Along with his collegiate coaching experience, Childress coached the Texarkana Mavericks to a 31-10 record in summer league play in 1991.

In 2014, Childress served as pitching coach for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. The team went 18-7 during their stint, posting a 1.58 ERA and .170 opponent batting average. The squad won four of five in a series against Chinese Taipei and then went on to claim the title at Honkbal – Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands.

Childress graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northwood in 1990 and earned a master’s degree of science from East Texas State (now TAMU-Commerce) in 1994. He and his wife Amanda (A&M Class of 1992) have a daughter, Hannah, a student at Nebraska, and a son, Maxwell, who serves as a bat boy for the Aggies.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).