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Dan Spain, of Delmar, Iowa, joined the collegiate head coaching ranks in April 2012 when he was named Clarke University's head baseball coach.
Spain guided his 2016 squad to a school-record 38 wins. The Crusaders finished 38-17 overall and made the program's first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round.
Spain, a graduate of Maquoketa High School, began his playing collegiate career at Marshalltown Community College. Following the completion of his associates degree, he transferred to Iowa Wesleyan College. Following IWC, Spain played his senior year at Clarke and completed his degree in kinesiology.
As a player, Spain had an immediate impact on the Clarke baseball program. Spain started at shortstop and hit at .331 clip. Immediately following his last season of eligibility, Spain began his coaching career, moving up the ranks quickly from student-assistant to being named head baseball coach late in the 2012 season.
In his first full season as a head coach, Spain’s 2013 baseball team had the best season in Clarke baseball history up to that point by rewriting the record books, including surpassing the single season wins record, led by a pitching staff which finished the season breaking eight team records and four different individual records. The 2013 squad also set multiple other school records including a school record 117 stolen bases. The 2014 team had difficulty staying healthy, but managed multiple historic wins including defeating national powerhouse Embry Riddle.
2015 Clarke baseball once again rewrote the record books, breaking the 2013 season wins record with a 30-win season. Led by All-American Andrew Redman, they put themselves in position for a conference championship game by putting together a 10-game winning streak, but unfortunately lost a 12-inning battle in the last game of the regular season. Although coming up short of their goal, 2015 was a historic season that has set the bar high moving into the future.
“We really developed not only a team identity, but a program identity and set the standard for what type of ball we play. This team set itself apart by the way we approached the game, we had a group that fully invested themselves into every aspect of the program and put trust in our coaching staff.”
Spain lives in his hometown of Delmar, Iowa with his wife, Jessica.
- 15 All-Conference players
- Conference Player of the Year
- 8 Conference Player of the Week
- 3 Gold Glove Winners
- 5 Professional Contracts
- Academic All-American
- 3 Academic All-District
- 9 NAIA Scholar Athletes
- 35 Academic All-Conference
2016 Season Preview
After putting Clarke University baseball on the map in 2015, this squad looks to carry that momentum into the 2016 season. This team has a balanced mixture of returners and first year crusaders.
“After graduating 10 seniors this past season we understood the importance of reloading the roster and making sure to find the right student-athletes who would not only upgrade our talent level, but also represent our program the right way academically,” said Spain.
With twenty-five new members on the squad and twenty-six returners, depth across the board looks to be the team’s greatest strength.
“The talent level, work ethic and dedication this group has already shown this fall, is looking to make putting together a lineup very difficult, but that’s what we wanted. Competition in every role is evidence that our options are unlimited,” added Spain.
Each of the 10 seniors who graduated made contributions to last season’s squad, so it will be key for both new and returners to step up and fill the void.
“I feel strongly that we have found ways to upgrade multiple positions, and we’ve got a balanced combination of pitching, defense and offensive ability," said Spain. "Clearly talent is key in having successful results, but our emphasis this season is to build positive lifelong relationships with each other. Playing the game hard, fearless and with respect has been our primary focus in relation to the game. Up to this point in the fall I am extremely confident that this group is capable of great things, they’re all working hard towards coming together as a group and I believe each guy on this team has improved their game substantially. I look forward to going into battle with this squad and facing any challenges that come our way, together.”
Clarke University baseball will begin their season February 12 with a four-game series against Blue Mountain in Mississippi. Clarke will open up at home on March 24 against Concordia (Nebraska). The Clarke University athletic program is in a conference transition period making them members of the Association of Independent Institutions (AII) for 2015-2016 and have accepted membership to the Heart of America Athletic Conference beginning in the Fall of 2016.