New Mexico State Athletics Director Dr. McKinley Boston has recently announced that head baseball coach Rocky Ward has signed a contract extension with NM State.
The contract is a three-year extension and goes thru 2015. Ward has led the program for 16 seasons and has tallied 403 wins during his time with the Aggies.
"I am pleased to see Rocky Ward's team continually grow competitively and last year's WAC title and NCAA tournament berth proves that. I am just as pleased to see his student-athletes continue to perform very well academically," Boston said. "His success with academics, as well NCAA tournament selection definitely warrants the contract extension."
It was the first ever WAC title the NM State baseball team has won the third NCAA Tournament berth. There have been 29 All-WAC selections and 10 All-American selections under coach Ward. He also coached the 2003 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, Billy Becher and the 2005 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, Luke Hopkins.
Ward's offense continues to rank in the top ten in many categories including batting average, runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Last season, senior Tanner Waite was the national statistical leader in walks.
"I am very pleased that I will be heading the NM State baseball program for another three years," Ward said. "When I took over the program in 1997, the team had never played in the postseason."
The program has now competed in nine conference tournaments and three NCAA regional tournaments, with the most recent coming in 2012. In the previous 35 years, before Ward came on board, the NM State baseball team had won at least 30 games in a season seven times and never more than 40. During his 16 years the Aggies have won at least 30 games in seven seasons and over 40 twice. Ward's 2009 hardball team went 44-17.
"I am very proud of what has been accomplished in my first 16 years and am looking forward to continued progress during the next three," Ward said.
Along with Ward's contract extension, assistant coach Nate Shaver has been promoted from volunteer coach to the hitting coach. Shaver replaces Gary Ward as a full-time assistant. Shaver will take over the duties of training the offense, working with outfield and could likely take over for Rocky Ward as the third base coach during the 2013 season.
"Nate [Shaver] did an outstanding job last season, while dad (Gary Ward) and I worked through a 45-day hospitalization of my mother," Ward said. "He earned his stripes, when dad and I had to unexpectedly leave Tucson to return to Las Cruces to be with mom."
Shaver coached the team to two wins against the eventual national champion, Arizona during the middle of the season.
"Nate is a very smart baseball man, who will be a great addition to our program as a full-time coach," Ward said.
Assistant coach and Hall-of-Famer, Gary Ward has moved to the volunteer position in order to spend more time with his wife, who is recovering from a severe illness. Coach Gary Ward will spend six weeks with the team during fall workouts and his status for the spring semester and season is unknown at this time.