Kevin Ritsche
Kevin Ritsche
Title: Head Baseball Coach
Phone: (336) 750-3310
Email: ritschek@wssu.edu
Experience: Five Seasons

http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/journalnow.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/d/35/d35198ee-a78b-11e2-8019-001a4bcf6878/516ee8dfa27db.image.jpg Kevin Ritsche was hired in 2010 to resurrect the baseball program at Winston-Salem State University after a 38-year hiatus and quickly created a winning program and culture that resonates at the national level of collegiate baseball.  He started by taking the program from non-existent in 2010 to 30-win Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) champions in 9 months.  Since the program’s resurrection under Ritsche, it has won 6 CIAA championships (2011-2015, 2017) while compiling 30 or more wins every season and 35 or more wins five of the last seven seasons.  In 2015, the Rams surpassed the 40-win mark for the first time in school history (42-15) and in 2017 fell in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship to West Chester University after his squad tied the record for the second most wins in school history (39-19). 

Ritsche has guided the Rams to 253 victories in seven seasons and has a career head coaching record of 253-133 overall (.655) and a 132-25 overall (.841) record against CIAA conference opponents.   He led his team to six NCAA tournament appearances (2011-2015, 2017) and has been named the CIAA Coach of the Year five times in seven years.

During Ritsche’s tenure as head coach at WSSU he has coached two NCAA All-Americans, sixteen all-region and forty-three all-conference players.  In addition, he has developed five conference players of the year (Aaron Jones, 2012; Ray Crawford, 2014, Connor Andrus, 2015, Nathan Steger, 2016 and Ivan Acuna 2017).  His team has earned two conference team GPA academic awards and two players were named Capital One All-Academic team members and four named to the CIAA Commissioners All-Academic team.  Ritsche has coached ten players at WSSU in the previous seven seasons that have signed professional baseball contracts.  

The 2017 season saw the Rams make history by advancing to the NCAA Atlantic Regional tournament championship game before losing to West Chester University, who advanced to the NCAA DII World Series in Grand Prairie, TX.  Ritsche’s 2017 squad advanced all the way through the losers bracket to make the championship and finished 4-2 at the regional after winning its 6th CIAA championship.  For the season, his 2017 squad tied the record for the 2nd most wins in school history (39-19).  The 2017 squad was second in the nation in stolen bases (139) and the team broke offensive records for most home runs (53), triples (18) and stolen bases (139) in a single season at WSSU.  Additionally, Randy Norris led the nation in stolen bases (47) and Brandon Ford was second in the nation in triples (10).  The 2017 squad finished in the top 30 in the nation in ERA (3.83), led by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-Region performer Seth Reeves (1.91).  Joining junior Seth Reeves with All-Region accolades were senior Ivan Acuna and sophomore Randy Norris.  Additionally, Ritsche developed his fifth CIAA conference player of the year in Ivan Acuna.

The 2015 season saw the Rams break the single season record for wins (42) and achieved the highest ranking in school history (#21).  The pitching staff posted the best earned run average in the CIAA for the fifth consecutive season and the Rams were 2-0 in the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual champion #1 Mercyhurst and #2 Millersville on championship Sunday to witness their record-breaking season come to an end.  The Rams finished the season 42-15 and captured their fifth consecutive CIAA championship.   Andrus, Dombrowskas and Burton were named to the 2015 Daktronics and NCBWA All-Region teams while Andrus was the 2015 CIAA Player of the Year.

Ritsche’s 2014 team showcased plenty of new faces after graduating 13 seniors and 7 starting positionals from the record breaking 2013 squad.  However, Ritsche’s young Rams reloaded and brought home their fourth consecutive CIAA Championship.  They also competed in their fourth consecutive NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament and were one of two teams in the Atlantic Region making their fourth consecutive appearance.  Although finishing 0-2 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, Ritsche’s squad finished 36-19 overall, marking the third consecutive season of 35 or more wins.  Ritsche was named CIAA Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year while Ray Crawford and Connor Andrus were named to the 2014 Daktronics and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-Region teams.  In addition, Crawford and Andrus were one of eight other Rams named to the All-CIAA conference team.  Ray Crawford became the second Ram in baseball history at WSSU to be named CIAA Player of the Year. 

The 2013 team broke the previous record of wins with 39 victories and played host for the first time ever to the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament as a #2 seed.  The Rams repeated as CIAA champions for the third consecutive year, losing only one contest to a conference opponent.  Ritsche was named CIAA Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year and several players were recognized for their performances on and off the field.  Travis Moore was recognized as a 2013 NCBWA All-American while Hickernell was also named an NCBWA All-American.  Along with All-Region accolades for Moore, Hickernell and German Reyes, six total Rams were named to the All-CIAA team (Jordan Carlton [LHP – 1st team and All-Rookie Team], Tyler Hickernell [DH – 1st team], Travis Moore [LF – 1st team], Paco Martin [SS = 2nd team], Aaron Jones [1B – 2nd team] and Levi Grassley [3B – 2nd team].   

In the classroom, the Rams baseball squad won the CIAA Academic team award for the second consecutive year (3.12 GPA).  Twenty of Ritsche’s players made the Dean’s List and German Reyes and Paco Martin were named to the Capital One Academic All-District 2 team.  Reyes was also named to the CIAA Commissioners All-Academic Team. 

Ritsche’s 2013 sqaud was 10th overall in Division 2 in win-loss record (.750).  Offensively, his squad once again ranked amongst the top teams statistically.  The Rams were second nationally in scoring (9.2 runs/game) and 3rd in runs scored (489), 4th in doubles (127), 6th in on-base percentage (.423), 9th in hits (615) and walks (240) and 11th overall in batting average (.335).  Ritsche’s squad was near perfect on the base paths stealing 105 of 114 bases. 

After sweeping through the conference tournament undefeated for the second consecutive year and third overall championship in a row, the Rams played host to the NCAA Atlantic Regional Tournament in Winston-Salem, NC.  The Rams were ranked #23 in the country and #2 in the NCAA Atlantic Region.  After falling short of the championship game in the regional, the Rams finished 39-13 overall, which surpassed their own record for wins in a season set in 2012.

The 2012 squad set a school record with 35 victories and repeated as CIAA conference champions while capturing the program’s first NCAA Division II regional tournament victory in school history. The 2012 season delivered many accolades as Ritsche built on an impressive 30-win and CIAA conference championship inaugural season in 2011.  Ritsche was chosen as the league’s Coach of the Year while his first baseman Aaron Jones was selected as the CIAA player of the year.  Along with Jones, six other Rams were all-conference selections.  In addition, four of them were named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) all-region squad while junior infielder German Reyes along with Jones were named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-Atlantic Region team.  Reyes was also named to the College Baseball Lineup DII All-Star Team while Jones was selected to the North Carolina College Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) 2012 All-State College Division Team.  Ritsche’s squad produced three hitters who batted over .400 on the season (Reyes, Jones & Martin) with a team batting average of .334 that was high enough to tie for the 8th best nationally.  Offensively, the squad also ranked 7th nationally in doubles (125), 12th in hits (607), 17th in slugging percentage (.431) and 21st in homeruns (43).  Ritsche’s team ERA was 35th best nationally (3.56) and they turned the 2nd most double plays in the country. 

The post-season awards continued off the field as well.  In the classroom, Ritsche’s squad garnered the conference academic award with a 3.07 team GPA.  In addition, Jones was selected to the CIAA Commissioner’s All-Academic team and 15 players had a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Ritsche took over the reigns in July of 2010 and diligently worked to renew the men's baseball program for the first time since 1973 following a 38-year absence of the sport at Winston-Salem State University.  In 2011, Ritsche led his team to a 30-25 overall record and a 19-8 CIAA conference record.  The inaugural season under Coach Ritsche witnessed the Rams make history as they won the CIAA conference tournament and were selected to the NCAA division II Atlantic Regional tournament as a #5 seed. The Rams finished the season ranked #8 in the Atlantic Region by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).  Along the way were many challenges including a tough non-conference schedule vs. nationally ranked opponents.  His first career head coaching victory and WSSU’s first baseball victory in 38 years came fitting after defeating the active NCAA Division II all-time career leader in wins, Joe Roberts, the retired head coach of Armstong Atlantic State University on Feb. 4th, 2011.  

For his efforts in 2011, Ritsche was named CIAA Coach of the Week in February and March.  At the conclusion of the season, four WSSU players garnered All-CIAA accolades.  

No stranger to WSSU, Ritsche has served as an Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology in the WSSU School of Health Sciences since 2005.  In 2014, Ritsche earned his Ph.D in Exercise Physiology from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. 

Ritsche, a native of Superior, WI, comes to WSSU after earning both his B.A and M.A. in Exercise Physiology from the College of St. Scholastica (CSS) in Duluth, MN.  While attending the College of St. Scholastica, he was a standout baseball player earning two-time Academic All-American honors (2003 and 2004), an Upper-Midwest All-Region First Team Selection (2004) and an NAIA Baseball Honorable Mention All-American honor (2004).  Ritsche was a catcher at CSS and is currently tied for the 9th highest single season record in homeruns (8), 15th in runs batted in (48) and 16th in slugging percentage (.688).  Following graduation in 2004, Ritsche served as a graduate assistant coach at CSS under the late John Baggs.  

“The focus of the early years of our baseball program at Winston-Salem State University was not only building the foundation for a winning team, but for a winning program,” commented Ritsche.  “I feel that we’ve accomplished that five-year plan and are now contenders for a national championship.  We accept the challenge that we are trying reach a level of success that no other team at our level has accomplished in such a short amount of time.  The success our program earns must come from the young men who are coached to become leaders on and off the field. My goals are to provide each student-athlete with an exceptional experience and graduate with the tools necessary to become successful professionals within their fields.”

Ritsche is currently a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and he resides in Winston-Salem with his wife Katherine, daughter Jillian (8) and son Nolan (4). 

Kevin Ritsche Career

Head Coaching Record

 

YEAR

TEAM

RECORD

CONFERENCE

CAREER

FINISH

2011

WSSU

31-24

19 - 8

31-24 (.564)

CIAA Champions, NCAA Regional Tournament (0-2)

2012

WSSU

35-21

18 - 3

66 - 45 (.595)

CIAA Champions, NCAA Regional Tournament (1-2)

2013

WSSU

39-13

20 - 1

105 – 58 (.644)

CIAA Champions [HOST] NCAA Regional Tournament (1-2)

2014

WSSU

36-19

19 - 4

141 – 77 (.647)

CIAA Champions, NCAA Regional Tournament (0-2)

2015

WSSU

42-15

18 - 1

183 - 92 (.666)

CIAA Champions, NCAA Regional Tournament (2-2)

2016

WSSU

33-21

15 – 5

214 – 114 (.652)

CIAA Regular Season Champions

2017

WSSU

39-19

18-3

253 - 133 (.655)

CIAA Champions, NCAA Regional Runner Up (4-2)