Arizona State baseball head coach Tracy Smith was let go on Monday afternoon by Athletic Director Ray Anderson.
In seven seasons, Smith was 201-155 and made four NCAA postseason appearances. Despite the winning record, none of his teams were able to make it out of regionals. On Sunday, the Sun Devils were eliminated from the Austin Regional in the NCAA Tournament. They were eliminated by the three-seed, Fairfield, which earned just its second postseason win ever.
Of ASU’s five coaches in program history, Smith ends his tenure with the lowest winning percentage in school history (.565), and he also had a sub-.500 record in Pac-12 play. It has been 10 years since the baseball program played in a Super Regional.
“After speaking with Tracy Smith this afternoon, we have decided by mutual agreement that Coach Smith will not return as the head coach for Sun Devil Baseball next season. Decisions like this are never easy to make, but I want to thank Tracy for his efforts over the last seven years,” Anderson said in a statement from Sun Devil Athletics. “We are committed to returning Sun Devil baseball back to one of the country’s elite programs and will look for a leader who can help us compete for Pac-12 titles, consistently host postseason competitions and return us to the College World Series. We will begin a search for a new head coach immediately, and will be deliberate in securing a leader that is the best fit for the program and our university.”
It’s worth noting that despite the low winning percentage, Smith’s best team, which featured two first-round draft picks and five picks taken in the first four rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft, had its season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Spencer Torkelson, who was taken No. 1 overall by the Detroit Tigers, was featured on that roster and other draft picks such as Alika Williams and Trevor Hauver were also selected high up on draft boards.
In 2019, former Sun Devil Hunter Bishop was also a top-10 pick, selected 10th overall by the San Francisco Giants. All of these players were recruited by Smith and the program had more up and coming talent this year as it had to replace all of last year’s draft talent.
Freshman pitcher/infielder and former Mountain Pointe High School product Ethan Long was a freshman All-American, and Sean McClain, Nate Baez, Hunter Haas, Joe Lampe, and Drew Swift were all put on All-Conference teams as well.
The Sun Devils also lost three of their rotation starters on the mound due to Tommy John surgery in 2021, leading to challenges with the bullpen and a thin pitching staff.
Nevertheless, the talent didn’t translate to as many wins as Anderson was hoping for. At a prestigious college baseball program like Arizona State, more was desired.
The athletic department will now search for a new head coach. Does the administration stay in-house and go with former alum, or do they search elsewhere and navigate the rest of the college baseball landscape?
ASU is surely on the most coveted head coaching destinations in the country, and the program has many options that they can entertain.
“We are committed to returning Sun Devil baseball back to one of the country’s elite programs and will look for a leader who can help us compete for Pac-12 titles, consistently host postseason competitions and return us to the College World Series,” Anderson said. “We will begin a search for a new head coach immediately, and will be deliberate in securing a leader that is the best fit for the program and our university.”