KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tennessee Wesleyan head baseball coach Billy Berry has been named the 2012 Rawlings-NAIA National Coach of the Year, presented at the 2013 Rawlings-NAIA Hall of Fame and Awards Luncheon at the Chicago Hyatt Regency in Chicago, Ill., on Friday. The event is part of the annual American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention that is being held Jan. 3 - 6. Additionally, the 2012 Rawlings-NAIA Regional Coaches of the Year, the Robert E. "Ish" Smith Achievement Award and a 2012 NAIA Hall of Fame inductee were honored.
"It is a true testament of our kids and how hard they worked," said Berry. "This award recognizes one single person, but it is a team of great people that gives that one person the opportunity to receive it. I want to thank the past and present players, our staff of coaches and Tennessee Wesleyan College for the opportunity to be their head coach."
Berry led the Bulldogs to their first-ever Avista-NAIA World Series title in 2012, downing Rogers State (Okla.), 10-6, in the title game. Tennessee Wesleyan won 19 of its last 20 games en route to the national championship and finished with a 53-12 overall record, including a 22-2 mark in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). Prior to 2012, Berry led Tennessee Wesleyan to two NAIA World Series appearances, however the Bulldogs were winless in both trips.
The coach of the year honor is the first for Berry during his tenure as the Tennessee Wesleyan manager. He is also the first skipper from a team currently playing in the AAC to claim this prestigious honor since the award began in 1961.
Berry, who is scheduled to make 2013 his eighth season with the Bulldogs, boasts a 354-171 career record at Tennessee Wesleyan. He has won six AAC conference championships (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012) and coached seven NAIA All-Americans. Since 2008, Berry has had seven players taken in the Major League Baseball Draft, including right-handed pitchers Jeremy Fitzgerald - 21st round by the Atlanta Braves - and Levi Dean - 23rd round by the Seattle Mariners - in 2012.
Mark Kraemer, Senior Sports Marketing and Licensing Manager for Rawlings Sporting Goods, received the 2013 Robert E. "Ish" Smith Achievement Award. Established in 1999 by the NAIA-BCA, the "Ish" Award is presented to an outstanding NAIA coach or administrator who has demonstrated unselfish promotion of NAIA baseball. Kraemer has served a key role in Rawlings' marketing efforts since 2008 and has been a primary supporter of NAIA baseball during that time.
Edward A. "Ted" Ledbetter, a 2004 graduate of Oklahoma City University, was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame. The 2004 NAIA National Player of the Year, Ledbetter helped lead the Stars to back-to-back runner-up finishes in the 2003 and 2004 NAIA World Series. He owns the Oklahoma City program record with a .429 career batting average, including a single-season high .504 in 2004. Additionally, Ledbetter was twice named to the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America team.
2013 Rawlings-NAIA Hall of Fame and Awards Luncheon Award Winners
2012 Rawlings-NAIA National Coach of the Year: Billy Berry, Tennessee Wesleyan
2012 Rawlings-NAIA Regional Coaches of the Year
- East Region: Randy Stegall, Embry-Riddle (Fla.)
- Mid-Atlantic Region: Bryan Lewallyn, South Carolina Beaufort
- West Region: Shawn Humberger, College of Idaho
- Mid-South Region: Rocke Musgraves, LSU Shreveport (La.)
- Southeast Region: Billy Berry, Tennessee Wesleyan
- South Region: Mark Brew, Lee (Tenn.)
- Plains Region: Ron Bradley, Rogers State (Okla.)
- Southwest Region: Denney Crabaugh, Oklahoma City
- Midwest Region: Loren Torres, Point Park (Pa.)
2013 Robert E. "Ish" Smith Achievement Award: Mark Kraemer, Rawlings Sports Goods
2012 NAIA Hall of Fame Inductee: Edward A. "Ted" Ledbetter, Oklahoma City