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RSU Baseball Legend Retires

Bradley-Ron-2014vsNSURogers State Head Baseball Coach Ron Bradley has announced his retirement.

Bradley is retiring from collegiate coaching and returning home to Northwest Arkansas to coach high school baseball at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas.

“It has been an honor to help build the RSU athletic department over the last nine years,” Bradley said. “This is bittersweet for me. I have made many great memories at RSU and it has been a great place to work. It is amazing to see the transformation that the University has made since we started athletics. I am excited about the direction the athletic department is headed and I am fully supportive of the administration as they complete the transition to NCAA Division II. I have had the opportunity to coach countless talented student-athletes and work alongside tremendous coaches and administrators who have made my time here memorable. This community has been my home for many years and will always be a place that my family cherishes.”

Bradley has served at the helm of the Diamond Cats since the program’s inception in 2005. He laid the foundation for athletics at RSU when he introduced club sports to the campus as the director of physical education in 2004. He later served as interim athletic director and has been instrumental in the development of RSU athletic programs.

RSU President Dr. Larry Rice praised Bradley for his leadership both on and off the field.

“Coach Bradley was instrumental in guiding Hillcat baseball from a club sport to a program that competed for national championships. His strong moral character provided an outstanding role model for his student-athletes in all of their endeavors. He and his wife Jill were excellent ambassadors for the university, and we wish them well in this new chapter for their family.”

RSU Director of Athletics Ryan Erwin also expressed his appreciation for Bradley’s many contributions to the university.

“I do not have words to express how much Coach Bradley has meant not only to Hillcat ‎Baseball and the RSU Athletic Department, but also to the entire University and the Claremore community,” Erwin said. “We are all extremely grateful for Coach Bradley’s dedication and service to help lay the foundation for RSU Athletics, which many of us have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for years to come. Coach Bradley has been instrumental in shaping and impacting the lives of hundreds of young men and student-athletes, which exemplifies the purpose of intercollegiate athletics. Coach Bradley is a baseball legend in the state of Oklahoma and will be missed.”

In nine seasons, Bradley’s clubs have posted a 281-188 record. He leaves the Hill with the most wins of any coach in the RSU athletic department’s short nine-year history. Bradley has coached 19 all-conference selections, 11 conference gold glove award winners, four Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athletes, two NAIA All-Americans, one ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American and had three players selected to the NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team in 2012. Two Hillcats have been selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft under Bradley’s tutelage.

Bradley guided the Hillcats to their first winning season in 2007 with a 28-23 record. He followed that with a 35-16 record in 2008 and a fourth-place finish as a first year member of the Sooner Athletic Conference. He achieved his 100th collegiate coaching victory in 2009, leading RSU to its fourth-consecutive winning season.

The 2011 Cats posted a 45-15 record, capturing the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. The Cats reached the NAIA National Championship Opening Round and were ranked as high as No. 11 in the NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Poll, marking the first time the Cats had cracked the Top 25 in program history.

Bradley won his 200th collegiate coaching victory and the Hillcats tallied a 49-16 record in 2012. In the same season, RSU registered a NAIA National Runner-Up finish at the NAIA Baseball World Series, the first national runner-up finish for any Hillcat athletic team.

The Diamond Cats returned to the NAIA World Series in 2013 after winning the NAIA Opening Round-Claremore Bracket. RSU went 4-0 in the Opening Round to reach its second-straight World Series.

Bradley is a member of the Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association (OBCA) Hall of Fame, Class of 2003. Prior to his stint at RSU, Bradley compiled one of the most successful high school baseball coaching resumes in Oklahoma history. His career accomplishments include four state championships in four different classifications (2A, 4A, 5A, 6A), one state runner up, and eleven regional championships. He tallied nearly 500 career victories in his 21 years as a head coach at the high school level and holds the unique distinction of winning the first baseball state championship at West Fork (Ark.), Claremore (Okla.), and Jenks (Okla.) high schools. Bradley took Claremore to the state championship game three different times and reached at least the semi-final round in all three seasons he coached at Class 6A power Jenks High School.

Bradley has been selected Oklahoma Coach of the Year three times by The Daily Oklahoman and Tulsa World. He has also been honored with two National Region Coach of the Year Awards and is a five time OBCA Coach of the Year. He was also named the Oklahoma College Baseball Coach of the Year by his peers in January 2009.

The search for Bradley’s replacement will begin immediately.

Click here to view photos from Coach Bradley’s storied career on the Hill.

This story was submitted by RSU Athletics. 

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