Head Coach Shawn Stiffler enters his seventh season at the helm for VCU in 2019. Over his tenure, the Rams have climbed back into national prominance. Entering the 2018 campaign, they stood as only one of 14 programs in the country with 35-plus wins over the last four seasons.
During his first two seasons, the VCU baseball program emerged as a nationally-recognized program, putting up back-to-back Top-25 finishes. Stifler was named the 2015 ABCA East-Region Coach of the Year following a tremendous 2015 season, in which the Rams claimed the Atlantic-10 Conference Championship, advanced to the first Super Regional appearance in program history, and finished the season ranked #17 in the nation by the NCBWA. Following the season, four members of the 2015 ballclub (Daniel Concepcion, Heath Dwyer, Matt Lees, and Vimael Machin) signed contracts to play for professional organizations.
Under Stiffler, the Rams also won their first conference regular season title in the Atlantic 10 in 2017. Prior to that feat, the Rams hadn't won a regular season title since 2003 as a member of the CAA.
"It has never been a more exciting time to be a part of this athletic department," Stiffler said. "Having been involved with collegiate baseball in the state of Virginia for the past 10-plus seasons, I know that we have a tremendous opportunity to win here at VCU. Our staff will work tirelessly to continue the tradition of recruiting high caliber student-athletes, compete for championships at the highest level and graduate leaders into our community."
In December 2012, Stiffler was named the sixth head coach of the VCU Baseball program following the passing of his mentor Paul Keyes. Prior to his promotion, he spent six seasons under Keyes as the Rams’ pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
During his 11 seasons as an assistant, Stiffler, coached 29 MLB draft picks, 15 of which he personally recruited, 13 of those 15 were pitchers. He has coached nine All-Americans, two conference player of the year award winners, 44 All-CAA honorees, 10 All-Atlantic-10 honorees, and one Johnny Bench finalist (awarded to the best catcher in all of college baseball).
Stiffler's success as a recruiter has been a constant throughout his coaching career. In 2009, he signed a class for the Rams that was ranked in the Top-40 by Collegiate Baseball.
His impact at VCU was immediate, helping the Rams to the 2007 CAA title and 37 wins in just his first season. His mentorship of junior transfer Luke Pisker transformed into one of the most dominant seasons ever by a Black & Gold hurler with nine wins and 11 saves under his guidance. Pisker was later taken in the 17th round of the MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals. Three years later, Stiffler helped VCU claim its fifth CAA tournament title in 2010.
Since his arrival in Richmond, twelve Rams hurlers have inked professional contracts. Pisker joined Mick Mattaliano (Baltimore Orioles), John Leonard (Kansas City Royals), Cody Eppley (Texas Rangers), Joe Van Meter (Texas Rangers), Robbie Andrews (Arizona Diamondbacks), Blake Hauser (Seattle Mairners), Kyle Haynes (Pittsburgh Pirates), Kyle Pelchy (Tampa Bay Rays), Matt Lees (Arizona Diamondbacks), Daniel Concepcion (Kansas City Royals), and Heath Dwyer (Chicago Cubs).
Stiffler was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2012 season. He finished the campaign serving as interim head coach during the second half of the season and helped lead the Rams back to the CAA Tournament, compiling a 16-9 record during that stretch.
Prior to his arrival at VCU, the skipper found success as an assistant at his alma mater, George Mason. In his five years with the Patriots, Stiffler saw the team ERA decrease each season. In 2004, the team made a regional appearance, and recruited Miami Marlins prospect Justin Bour.
Stiffler earned a B.A. degree in communications from George Mason in December 2001, after a four-year career as a pitcher for the Patriots. He is a 1997 graduate of Somerset High School, where he earned honorable mention All-America honors from USA Today and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 53rd round. He was also an outstanding basketball player at Somerset.
He currently resides in Richmond with his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Wade, Scout, and Penn.