Doyle Wilson hire at Arizona Christian a boost for baseball

The latest coaching hire at Arizona Christian University brings the small faith-based private college something else it needs… a little name recognition.

Doyle Wilson will take over the school’s baseball program, which just finished its inaugural season under an interim coach.  Wilson takes over a program that went 14-34 in 2011.

The school underwent a name change recently.  Started in 1960, the north Phoenix school was formerly Southwestern College and the addition of the baseball program last year runs the total sports offered to 10.

So it’s still searching for name recognition as school officials make plans to greatly expand the current 500-student enrollment, which will likely bring with it an increase in its athletic offerings.  The Firestorm compete in NAIA Division I as an independent.

The Wilson hire will raise the school’s visibility, based on his background in Arizona sports.  And his tenure as a former professional player will lend credibility on the recruiting trail.

He began his collegiate coaching career as the pitching and catching instructor and recruiting coordinator at South Mountain Community College, and then went on to build a nationally-prominent baseball program at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Wilson started the baseball program at C-GCC in 2001 and built it into a consistently competitive part of the national landscape.  He posted 30 or more wins in each of his seven seasons at that school, compiled a .646 winning average, and was named the Region I Coach of the Year in 2003.

He was selected by Detroit in the 10th round of the 1984 Major League draft, but opted to attend the University of Arkansas where he was a All-Conference first team catcher during the two years he was there, and then was picked in the ninth round of the draft in 1986 by the Cleveland Indians.

He played four seasons for Cleveland and then later stepped back into the MLB game, becoming a part-time scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998-2001.

In 2008, he moved up from junior college ball to NCAA Division I when he left C-GCC to accept a position at the University of Southern California as the Trojans’ hitting and catchers coach and recruiting coordinator.  From there, he stepped into the head coaching role at Arizona Christian.

Rich Warnol, the former Pinnacle High School (Phoenix) coach, guided the program during the first year as its interim head coach.  Warnol will stay on as the top assistant to Wilson.

(Photo: Arizona Christian Athletics)