Print  
#10 Gene Stephenson
Position: Head Coach
Other Position: 30th Season
Experience: 29 Years
Phone: 316-978-3636
Email: baseball@goshockers.com

  When Gene Stephenson arrived at Wichita State after his hiring in the spring of 1977, he found nothing. No team, no field, no equipment, no tradition, not even a baseball. The program had been dormant for seven years and did not have any history of success.
   Today, WSU's program is one of the best and most recognizable in the country and Stephenson is respected by his peers as one of the top coaches in Division I college baseball.
   Consider the following. Not only has Stephenson won more games in 35 years than any other Division I program, earned his 1,200th career win in 22 seasons, quicker than any other Division I baseball coach, and has a career record of 1,798-647-3 record (.735).  He currently sits in second place among active coaches in number of victories with 1,798 and on April 17, 2004, he moved into second place on the all-time wins list as he passed former Texas coach Cliff Gustafson.  On May 21, 2003, he became just the third coach in Division I history to reach the 1,400-win plateau, on May 21, 2005, he became just the second coach in Division I history to reach the 1,500-win plateau and on May 25, 2007, he became the second coach in Division I history to reach 1,600 wins.  On April 4, 2010, he won his 1,700th career game.
   WSU supplanted Oklahoma State as the dominant college baseball power in the Midwest in 1988, and has qualified for the CWS five times since then. The Shockers have qualified for NCAA tournament play 27 times in the last 32 years, including a school-record 14-straight from 1987-2000.
   Wichita State reached the pinnacle of college baseball in 1989, winning the College World Series championship with a 5-3 win against Texas in the title game, but the seed for the school's first-ever NCAA team championship had been planted for many years.
   Stephenson arrived in Wichita after having spent five years as an assistant to Enos Semore in a very successful program at the University of Oklahoma. As recruiting coordinator and hitting instructor, Stephenson helped guide the Sooners to five Big Eight Conference championships and five CWS appearances.
   Very few people understood Stephenson's decision to come to Wichita State, but from the beginning, Stephenson made it clear he intended to challenge for a national championship.
   Progress toward that goal was made in his very first season, 1978, when the Shockers posted a 43-30-1 record. Late in that season, Wichita State played its first on-campus home game. The Shockers opened the season playing at McAdams Field and West Side Athletic Field - city ballparks - but finished the season at Shocker Field, site of what is now Eck Stadium-Home of Tyler Field.
   A 65-15 mark followed in 1979, and the year was 1980 when Stephenson and the Shockers made their first NCAA tournament appearance. Wichita State reeled off four-consecutive victories to win its first Missouri Valley Conference tournament title, and entered the Midwest Regional with a 53-10-1 record, subsequently losing to Missouri and California.
   In 1981, the Shockers finished 56-15 after winning the Valley's Western Division title and advancing to the Atlantic Regional in Clemson, S.C. Wichita State won its opening-round game against host Clemson before suffering consecutive losses to Mississippi State and East Tennessee State.
   Wichita State's 1982 squad, called by many the greatest collegiate team ever assembled, lifted the Shockers into the national spotlight. Led by NCAA Player-of-the-Year Phil Stephenson, and NCAA Pitcher-of-the-Year Bryan Oelkers and five others who earned All-America honors, the Shockers rolled through regular-season play with a 63-12 mark. After claiming its second Valley tournament championship with three-straight wins, Wichita State cruised through the South Regional in New Orleans, La., allowing just one run in 27 innings to claim its first regional title and CWS appearance.
   The Shockers went 3-2 in their first-ever CWS appearance, suffering both losses to Miami, including a 9-3 setback in the championship game. Wichita State opened play with a 7-0 win over Cal State-Fullerton and followed a 4-3 loss to Miami with wins against Oklahoma State, 13-2, and Texas, 8-4. The Shockers established an NCAA record with 73 wins in 87 games, a mark which still stands today.
   Stephenson's 1983 Shocker team finished regular-season play with a No. 1 ranking and a 53-14 record, but went 1-2 in both the Valley tourney and the Midwest Regional in Stillwater, Okla., after suffering several key injuries.
   The Shockers missed out on postseason play in 1984, but returned strongly in 1985, the year they moved into their new on-campus facility. Eck Stadium, with a seating capacity of 3,400, was constructed around Shocker Field, and for the first time, Shocker fans had access to seating, concessions and restrooms, and media had the ability to cover the Shockers in the comfort of a press box.
   The Shockers won their third Valley tournament title in 1985, and once again were sent to Stillwater, Okla., to play in the Midwest Regional on the home field of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Shocker-Cowboy series had developed into a heated rivalry, fueled by the competitive nature of Stephenson and then-OSU coach Gary Ward, who was hired at Oklahoma State the same year Stephenson revived the Shockers' program.
   The Shockers forced No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State, led that year by All-America player Pete Incaviglia - the single-season and career NCAA record holder for home runs, into a second championship game before dropping a 10-6 decision.
   Since missing out on postseason play in 1986, Wichita State had been to the NCAA tournament 14-consecutive years, before again missing out in 2001.
   In 1987, the Shockers played in the West I Regional in Palo Alto, Calif., and in 1988, WSU was again sent to Stillwater for another Midwest Regional. This time the Shocks turned the tables on the No. 1-ranked Cowboys, downing them two times, including a 15-5 triumph in the second title game, to return to the College World Series for the second time in history.
   Upon reaching Omaha, annually the site of the CWS, the Shockers moved into the winner's bracket final with wins over Florida and Arizona State. They appeared on the verge of clinching a berth in the championship game when they held a 3-1 lead over the Sun Devils, but ASU rallied for an extra-inning win in that contest and another win two days later, forcing the Shockers to settle for third place.
   The 1988 season held significance for another reason. The old artificial turf on Shocker Field was replaced with a state-of-the-art artificial turf and renamed Tyler Field, while other stadium improvements were made, including the addition of nearly 400 box seats.
   Expectations were high as the 1989 season opened and the Shockers reeled off a school-record 24-game winning streak following a season-opening loss. Those high hopes were tempered, though, when Wichita State was eliminated from the Valley tournament and left for Fresno, Calif., as the No. 1 seed in the West II regional without starters Jeff Bonacquista, an all-Valley outfielder, and Mike Lansing, an all-America shortstop.
   Using a makeshift lineup, the Shockers captured their second-consecutive regional title with two victories over Michigan on the final day to gain revenge from an earlier loss to the Wolverines. The script was similar in Omaha, where the Shockers suffered a second-game loss to Florida State and were forced to battle back through the loser's bracket. A home run from reserve catcher Mike Wentworth, who also had homered in the regional, stalwart pitching from eventual Most Valuable Player Greg Brummett, relief standout Jim Newlin and clutch play from Eric Wedge, Mike McDonald and Pat Meares keyed the Shockers' run to Wichita State's first NCAA team title. Brummett tossed a six-hitter against the Longhorns in the final, and Meares' two-run homer in the fifth inning was the big blow offensively in the championship game. In all, Wichita State survived potential elimination six times en route to the title.
   In 1990 the Shockers finally received a bid to hold an NCAA regional tournament in Wichita, but were eliminated in three games at Eck Stadium-Tyler Field. The Shockers received another opportunity to play host to a regional in 1991, and used the home field advantage to capture their fourth regional championship with an 11-5 win over California.
   Back in Omaha again, Wichita State rolled unbeaten through its first three games to earn a spot opposite Louisiana State in the championship game. The Tigers stopped the Shockers, 6-3, ending dreams of a second national title in three years.
   Wichita State again captured a regional title in Eck Stadium-Tyler Field in 1992, but was eliminated from the CWS after two games with losses to Pepperdine and Oklahoma. The regional title came at the expense of arch-rival Oklahoma State, which was playing in a Wichita State-hosted Midwest Regional for the first time. An Eck Stadium-record crowd of 8,103 braved a cool, rainy day to watch the Shockers' 5-2 championship game victory.
   The spring of 1992 also saw the partial completion of the Phase III expansion at Eck Stadium, increasing seating capacity to nearly 5,600 and providing additional box seating, concessions areas and restrooms. The remainder of the project was completed in the fall of 1992, when the staff and players moved into their new offices and locker room, respectively. An indoor workout area and an All-American room were also added.
   While the spring of 1993 marked the first full season in the newly-improved Eck Stadium-Tyler Field complex, the season will be remembered most for the Shockers' sterling performance in the Atlantic Regional and their run to the championship game in the CWS. Playing on the road in regional play for the first time in four years, the Shockers hit Atlanta, Ga., running, capturing thrilling one-run decisions against South Carolina and host Georgia Tech, and a 5-3 championship game win over Ohio State to advance to Omaha once again. In Omaha, the Shockers continued their march on college baseball, qualifying for the championship game with consecutive wins against Arizona State, Texas and Oklahoma State. Unfortunately for WSU fans, LSU freshman Brett Laxton ended the miracle run with a 16-strikeout performance in the Tigers' 8-0 championship game triumph.
   In 1994, Wichita State conquered the Valley with its eighth-straight regular-season title, and played host to the Valley Tournament and the NCAA Midwest II Regional.
   Again, in 1995, a season in which Stephenson earned his 1,000th career victory, the Shockers controlled the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title, and played host to the Midwest Baseball Regional.
   Stephenson's 1,000th win, which came May 13 in the final home series of the Valley season against Creighton, allowed him to become the first collegiate baseball coach to reach the 1,000-win plateau in as few as 18 seasons. The Shockers went on to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the ninth-straight season, and 14th time overall.
   WSU returned to the CWS for the seventh time overall and the fourth time in the previous six years with four-straight wins in the 1996 Midwest Regional, which was held in Wichita for the third-straight year and the sixth time out of a possible seven in the 1990's.
   Nine seniors and 11 newcomers helped lead WSU to the 1996 CWS where WSU lost to eventual National Champion Louisiana State, 9-8, before losing to Florida State, 8-4. The Shockers finished 54-11 overall with their 10th-straight Valley regular-season title and seventh NCAA Regional title.
   Wichita State also boasted its third first-round draft pick in the last four years in reliever Braden Looper, who was the third pick overall by the St. Louis Cardinals.
   In 1997, the Shockers again advanced to an NCAA regional despite injuries to starters Joey Blue, a third baseman, Zach Sorensen, a shortstop, and second baseman Kevin Hooper. The Shockers, a fourth seed, went 0-2 at the South II regional in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with losses to North Carolina State, 10-9, and CWS qualifier Alabama, 6-2, to finish 51-18 overall. The 51-win total brought WSU's total 50-plus win seasons to 15 under Stephenson.
   In 1998, the Shockers won the Valley regular season crown for the 12th-straight year with a 26-1 record.  WSU dominated offensively in league play scoring 10-or-more runs in 18 league games, and 10 games in a row during one stretch.  Also, in 1998 WSU won the Valley Tournament for the first time since 1993, going undefeated in four games.  
   In the Midwest Regional, though, the Shockers couldn't get their high-powered offense into gear, as WSU went 1-2.  After an opening game victory over Southeast Missouri State, 7-4, the Shocks lost a 3-2 game in 10 innings, despite an outstanding pitching performance by senior lefty Steve Foral.  The next day working out of the losers' bracket, the Shockers' season ended in a 6-4 defeat to eventual CWS runner-up Arizona State.
   The 1998 season was a huge success as WSU led the nation in five statistical categories including winning percentage and batting average.  Individually, sophomore slugger Pat Magness led the nation in batting average (.464), while junior second baseman Kevin Hooper was first in runs-per-game (1.77).  The team also produced six All-Americans in Jeff Ryan, Pat Magness, Zach Sorensen, Marc Bluma, Kevin Hooper, and freshman All-American Koyie Hill.
   In 1999, WSU continued its winning ways, posting a 59-14 record, including a 13th-straight Valley regular-season title, and a second-straight Valley tournament title.  Led by All-Americans Marc Bluma, Kevin Hooper, Pat Magness, and Koyie Hill, the Shockers finished 2-2 in the Wichita Regional, the eighth WSU-hosted regional.  After opening regional play with back-to-back victories versus Oral Roberts and UCLA, WSU dropped consecutive games to Oklahoma State, 11-8, and 7-6, on the final day.  
   In 2000, WSU finished 44-21, won its 14th consecutive Valley regular-season title, 11th Valley tournament title, and 19th NCAA Regional bid, their 14th straight.  The Shockers finished 2-2 in the Minnesota Regional, after opening regional play with a 10-7 loss to host Minnesota.  WSU then won back-to-back games versus Butler and Minnesota before losing 8-1 to Nebraska in the championship game.  
    The 2001 season saw the Shockers win more than 40 games for the 24th-consecutive year.  WSU finished 42-24, but finished runner-up in The Valley and was not granted an NCAA postseason berth for the first time since 1986.  
  The Shockers won back the Valley regular season title in 2002 along with the Valley Tournament title.  WSU finished 47-17 and earned a regional and a No. 1 seed.  In the first round of the Wichita Regional, Oral Roberts defeated the Shocks 6-1.  WSU came back and won the elimination game over Oklahoma, 8-4, but fell to ORU a second time, 15-8.
  In 2003, the Shockers won their 13th Valley Tournament title and made their 21st NCAA appearance.  WSU finished the season 49-27 to earn a No. 3 seed in the Houston Regional.  In the first round, the Shocks defeated Mississippi 4-2 to earn a match up with No. 1 Rice.  The Owls would defeat WSU 10-1 and force the Shockers to play Ole Miss again.  
   WSU won the rematch 5-4 to make it to the championship game against Rice.  The Owls would win, 5-2 to end the Shockers season.
   Led by 10 seniors, the Shockers finished 49-16 overall and 28-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2004.  The 28 wins were the most in Valley history as the Shockers won the Valley regular-season and tournament titles.  WSU advanced to the Fayetteville Regional where they fell to Arkansas twice on the final day.
   In 2005, WSU won 51 games, the 18th time Stephenson has led the Shockers to 50 or more wins in a season.  The 51 wins were impressive considering the Shockers played many freshmen and dealt with many injuries.  Despite those factors, the Shockers advanced to the NCAA Regional championship game for the third-straight year falling to Tennessee in the Knoxville Regional.  Junior pitcher Mike Pelfrey became the 10th Shocker to be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft in June.  Pelfrey finished his career as the all-time Shocker leader in ERA with a 2.18 mark.
  The Shocks went 46-22 in 2006 and advanced to their 24th NCAA Tournament.  In the Norman Regional, WSU defeated National Player of the Year Brad Lincoln in the first round before scoring 18 runs against TCU, a Shocker record for regional play.  WSU ended its season with two losses to Oklahoma.  Joe Carter/Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Damon Sublett earned All-America honors despite a late season injury, while Aaron Shafer became the first player in conference history to win the MVC Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards.  
   The 2007 squad gave Stephenson something he was missing on his resume - a trip to a Super Regional.  The Shockers finished the season 53-22 and won its 18th Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title.  WSU hosted a Regional for the 10th time and defeated Arizona in the championship game, 3-0, to advance to its first-ever Super Regional.  The Shockers lost two one-run games to UC Irvine in the Super Regional in front of a school-record 8,153 fans at Eck Stadium.    Wichita State made its way back to Super Regional play in 2008 as the Shockers finished 48-17 overall and 19-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference.  WSU won its 19th MVC regular-season title and 16th Valley Tournament title before traveling to Stillwater, Okla., for NCAA Regionals.  The Shockers swept through Regional play defeating TCU and host Oklahoma State twice, including an 11-7 win over the Cowboys in the championship game.  Clint McKeever hit a grand slam in the top of the 10th inning to send the Shockers to their second-straight Super Regional.  WSU traveled to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on Florida State in a best-of-three series and won the first game before falling to the Seminoles in the final two games.
The Shocks won the 2009 MVC Tournament and advanced to their 27th NCAA Tournament.  In the summer of 2009, construction of the new indoor practice facility began along with new turf on the infield and outfield at Eck Stadium.
In 2010, the Shockers won their 20th Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title and won 40 or more games for the 32nd time in Stephenson's 33 seasons as WSU finished 41-19.
   Beyond his accomplishments at WSU, Stephenson has become a leader and a spokesman for college baseball. Eighteen years ago he introduced to The Valley the concept of a 20- and 90-second clock to promote quicker play.
   He also speaks frequently on behalf of the Wichita State endowment and alumni associations at university events throughout the country. Stephenson is in high demand at trade shows and coaching clinics, and he often is a guest speaker at local and national corporate meetings, providing inspirational and motivational talks. He commonly makes appearances locally on behalf of charity.
   Stephenson, a 1968 graduate of the University of Missouri, attended his first year on a football scholarship. He found more success in baseball, leading the Big Eight in hitting one year and earning all-league honors and All-America honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association in 1967 as well as serving as team captain.
   After a year at his alma mater as a graduate assistant on the baseball staff, Stephenson served a three-year stint in the United States Army, spending one year in Vietnam.  Upon his return to the U.S., Stephenson took an assistant coaching position under Enos Semore at Oklahoma.  
   Stephenson, along with his younger brother, Phil, was inducted into the Guthrie High School Hall of Fame in 1994.  A four-sport standout, he was a first team all-state honoree in football and baseball in his senior year.  
   Stephenson, 67, has two children, Jay, 42, and Ginny, 39, and five grandchildren and one great-grandson.