Rodney Hennon - 2013
Rodney Hennon enters his 14th season as Head Coach of the Georgia Southern Baseball Program. Under Hennon’s guidance, the Eagles have won at least 30 games every year and have done so for 13-straight seasons. Hennon joins legendary coach Jack Stallings as the only coaches in Georgia Southern history to record more than 10 straight 30-win seasons.
Since taking over the storied program before the 2000 season, Hennon has accumulated a 473-310 record, including an impressive 250-154 record in Southern Conference play. His SoCon career record ranks second among active head coaches, and his overall career record of 554-348-1 also ranks second among the league’s 11 head coaches. He has led everyone every one of his 15 teams to 30 or more wins, and his active streak ranks 9th in the NCAA.
During the past four years, Hennon has led the Eagles to three SoCon Tournament finals appearances and has won two SoCon Tournament titles in 2009 and 2011. He also led the Eagles to a tournament titles in 2000 and 2002 and regular season championships in 2000 and 2001.
Hennon surpassed legendary coach J.I. Clements for second place on the school’s all-time wins list during the 2008 season when he picked up his 321st Georgia Southern win in a 17-13 victory over The Citadel on May 2nd. Hennon most recently won his 500th career game at the College of Charleston on March 27, 2011. When he captured his 100th career victory on April 8, 2000, he reached the triple-digit milestone quicker than any other coach in league history.
During his tenure, Hennon has guided the Eagles to at least a fourth-place finish in the Southern Conference regular season 11 times, including six runner-up or championship finishes. The Eagles also advanced to the NCAA Regionals for three consecutive years from 2000-2003.
While the Eagles have continued their winning tradition on the field, Hennon has put an emphasis on success in the classroom. Academics have always been a high priority for Hennon. This fall the baseball team posted their second best academic semester in program history and had three players on the President’s List, eight on the Dean’s list and 19 players in total posted ing a 3.0 or better GPA in the fall. In 2008, David Richardson (2nd Team), Chris Shehan (3rd Team) and Brian Pierce (3rd Team) all earned CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades.
During the 2005-06 academic year, the baseball team posted the highest GPA of any men’s team that year. Following the fall 2007 semester, 14 players recorded a 3.50 GPA and five scored a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Hennon has produced talent on the field as well, coaching five All-America performers and 30 major league draft picks. Victor Roache was the latest Eagle to be called an All-American after hitting a NCAA-best 30 home runs in 2011. In the past two seasons, seven Eagles have heard their named called in the MLB draft. Led by the Eagles’ fifth-ever first round selection, Roache was one of four players selected in the 2012 draft. Chris Beck, Jarret Leverett and Eric Phillips where also drafted that same year.
In 2012 the Eagles bounced back after dropping 9 of 11 games early in the season to reach the Southern Conference Tournament title game for the second-straight season. Georgia Southern came up short in extra innings but posted their 13th-straight season of 30 or more wins. Chase Griffin, who finished second on the team with a .320 batting average and led the squad with 10 home runs, was named the league’s Freshman of the Year, while Eric Phillips was a First Team All-Conference selection. Tyler Avera was also named to the All-Freshman team.
In 2011 Georgia Southern advanced to their second regional in three seasons after winning the Southern Conference Tournament behind a 1-0 complete game shutout by Chris Beck. The Eagles faced eventual national champion South Carolina in the opening game and scored the game’s first run before falling 2-1. The Eagles were awarded with both the SoCon Pitcher of the Year in Matt Murray and the Player of the Year in Victor Roache. Roache set both the school and SoCon record with his 30 home runs.
In 2008 Georgia Southern put up staggering offensive numbers, not only program record-setting numbers but also statistics that ranked among the nation’s best. The Eagles finished the year nationally ranked in various offensive categories: second in batting average (.346); second in scoring (10.3 runs per game); fourth in doubles (2.66 p/g); second in home runs (114); second in slugging percentage (.584); 13th in walks (302); 15th in stolen bases (108); 10th in sacrifice flies (37); and 36th in hit by pitches (80). The offensive juggernauts set GSU records with: 114 home runs (3rd in SoCon season ‘Top 10’), six grand slams (1st SoCon), 595 runs scored (2nd SoCon), 543 RBI (2nd SoCon), 1,269 total bases (2nd SoCon) and 751 hits (5th SoCon). The 154 doubles were second most (5th SoCon), and the .346 team batting average was the highest total in the modern era (tied 5th SoCon). Georgia Southern’s .584 slugging percentage was the second-highest average in the SoCon record books, and the 37 sacrifice flies tied for second-most.
One of the most impressive offensive displays - not only in Georgia Southern history but in the nation - came in mid-March 2008 at home against Columbia. The Eagles slammed a NCAA Division I record 14 home runs during a 26-8 rout of the Lions. In fact 12 different Eagles went deep, including a stretch of three straight pinch-hit home runs in the eighth inning. Two games later against the Lions, Georgia Southern pounded out another 13 extra-base hits in a 22-8 victory.
During the 2005 campaign, the Eagles put together one of the most dominating offenses in the country led by a pair of .400 hitters in Greg Dowling and James Payne. GSU posted a .331 team batting average that season which helped lead to 38 wins and a runner-up SoCon finish. Not only did that impressive batting average rank third-best in GSU history but also the fifth-highest in the nation. Southern also ranked 11th nationally in slugging percentage, 25th in scoring and home runs, 47th in stolen bases and 22nd in doubles per game.
From 2000 to 2003 Hennon guided the Eagles to three NCAA regionals, three SoCon Tournament Championship games and two regular season conference championships. In 2001 Georgia Southern won 42 games, 21 of those coming in SoCon play which led to its second-straight regular season title. The postseason saw the Eagles defeat No. 9 Georgia in the NCAA Regionals for the school’s first win in the postseason since 1996.
Faced with a continuing set of obstacles and hurdles during his initial spring in 2000, Hennon led a spirited and over-achieving 19-man Eagle squad to a 38-23 record, a Southern Conference regular season and tournament championship, and the school’s first NCAA Regional appearance in four years. Along with a trimmed down pitching staff of just six arms, Hennon’s club set a new school record with a 23-7 league mark and won 23 of its last 33 games after finishing February and March just two games over .500 at 15-13.
Twice named Southern Conference Coach of the Year, Hennon came to Georgia Southern after two seasons (1998-99) as head coach of his alma mater Western Carolina. After accepting an offer to guide the Western Carolina program in July 1997, Hennon quickly added his own distinctive chapters to one of the winningest programs in the Southern Conference. During his inaugural campaign as head coach in 1998, Hennon led the Catamounts to a 45-15 overall record and a 20-6 SoCon mark, tying the WCU mark for most victories in a single year and ranking sixth among all NCAA Division I members in winning percentage. His players claimed both the Southern Conference’s Pitcher and Player of the Year awards while seven signed professional contracts at the conclusion of the season.
In addition, the 1998 WCU squad led the nation in stolen bases with 153, which shattered a 33-year-old school record and a 16-year-old conference mark. He directed a pitching staff which also enjoyed an outstanding season, turning in a 4.01 earned run average to rank 11th nationally, while finishing ninth among all Division I institutions with 499 strikeouts.
Hennon followed up his record-setting initial season with a 36-23-1 mark, which included a third-place league standing at 18-10. The Catamounts easily distinguished themselves as the SoCon’s top offensive squad with conference bests in batting average (.328), on-base percentage (.413), slugging percentage (.523), runs (502), hits (684), home runs (82) and runs batted in (445) while finishing second in triples (20) and third in stolen bases (123). Hennon guided one of the league’s youngest pitching staffs to a 5.70 earned run average - rating third among all conference teams.
Prior to taking over the WCU head coaching duties, Hennon served as a full-time assistant coach for his alma mater for three seasons. As an assistant coach, Hennon helped lead the Cats to a 42-20 record, a Southern Conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 1997 as a member of the late Keith LeClair’s staff. He joined the WCU baseball staff in 1994 as a part-time assistant after earning numerous on-field and classroom honors during his playing career from 1990 to 1993.
A Second Team All-SoCon choice in 1992, Hennon batted .367 to lead the SoCon in hits and runs scored, while sparking the Catamounts to the league regular season and tournament championship. Despite his all-tournament performance (eight hits and five RBI), WCU fell one game short of reaching the College World Series after falling to Florida State in NCAA South II Regional Championship play. A year later as a senior, Hennon earned First Team All-SoCon honors, again leading the league in hits and runs scored and helping the Catamounts to the NCAA South Regional in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When he left WCU, he ranked first among the school’s season leaders in games started and at-bats, while standing tied for 19th in runs scored and 23rd for hits.
Hennon earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Western Carolina in 1993. In the classroom, he was a two-time GTE-CoSIDA Academic All-America choice as he posted a 3.55 grade point average during his four years of undergraduate work in WCU’s College of Business. Hennon was also named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll in each of his four years while competing as a student-athlete.
Hennon is married to the former Kim Estes of Fairburn, and they are the parents of three children - Walker, Keeli and Carter.