For Greene County News
FAIRBORN — Three years ago, Wright State Director of Athletics Bob Grant didn’t go far to replace Rob Cooper, who accepted the head baseball coach position at Penn State. Grant did the same this time after Greg Lovelady accepted the head coach position at Central Florida on Monday.
On Wednesday, he chose assistant coach and former Raider player, Jeff Mercer, to guide the successful program that has back-to-back NCAA Regional Finals appearances and 124 wins over those three years. He will be the first former Raider player to lead the program.
Mercer, who was a two-time All-Horizon League honoree for Wright State in 2008 and 2009, returned to the Raiders as an assistant coach in September 2013 and helped make an immediate impact on the program. WSU set a school record for wins with 43 in 2015 just to break it a year later with 46 wins.
“The accomplishments of our baseball team the last three seasons have been tremendous and historic — Jeff has been a huge part of all of those accomplishments,” Grant said. “I’m thrilled that he will be our new head coach. His unique background as a player and coach here and elsewhere make him a perfect fit to continue to build on the tremendous success we’ve already achieved. He fits our culture perfectly. I can’t wait for him to put his mark on our baseball program.”
Mercer assisted Lovelady in not only setting records, but also coached six total players drafted by Major League Baseball, including five this past spring. During his three years back at Wright State, the Raiders have had 30 Horizon League honorees, two Horizon League regular-season and tournament titles and two NCAA appearances.
“First, I want to thank President Hopkins, Dr. Abrahamowicz and Bob Grant for placing their faith in me to lead this program,” Mercer said. “Coach Nischwitz, Coach Cooper and Coach Lovelady have created the foundation of success at Wright State and I am humbled to follow in their footsteps. As a Wright State alum myself, my time as a player and assistant coach have been the best experiences of my life. The incredible love and support of the entire Wright State community has always made this a very special place to me.
“As the head coach, I can ensure I will pour my heart and soul into leading this program at the extremely high standard it’s accustomed to,” added Mercer. “We will compile an excellent coaching staff and continue to recruit high level student-athletes, who will be great representatives of our university. I am very excited about this opportunity as we continue elevating the tradition of the Raider Gang!”
Working with all aspects of the program, Mercer was the recruiting coordinator responsible for bringing in the majority of the talent during this most successful period in the history of Wright State baseball. One of Mercer’s primary responsibilities was his role as the hitting coach. In the 2016 season, WSU’s 47 home runs were the most in a season since 2009, Coach Mercer’s senior year playing for the Raiders. He also worked with the infield and outfield, and coached third base.
Mercer came back to WSU after serving two seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at Western Kentucky University. While there, he primarily worked with pitchers and outfielders, but was also instrumental in the development and organization of baseball camps and handled other day-to-day operations.
Prior to Western Kentucky, Mercer was a volunteer assistant during the 2011 season at the University of Michigan. During his time there, he worked with the catchers and outfielders. Prior to arriving in Ann Arbor, Mercer spent the 2010 season as the graduate assistant coach at Ohio Northern University where he was in charge of the infielders and hitters and was the recruiting coordinator.
A native of Bargersville, Ind., Mercer played two seasons at Dayton before transferring to Wright State, where he was a two-time First Team All-Horizon League honoree as a first baseman. He was named to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper All-American Third Team in 2009 after hitting .357 with 26 doubles and 74 RBI. He was also named the Horizon League Player of the Year in 2009 and was named to the league’s All-Tournament team after he tied the WSU single-season records for RBI, doubles, games played and games started. In 2009, the Raiders played in the Fort Worth, Texas NCAA Regional.
Mercer earned a degree in organizational leadership from Wright State in 2009. He and his wife, Stephanie, live in Beavercreek.