RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Baseball and Head Coach Shawn Stiffler announced on Friday afternoon the addition of Matt Blanchard as a Student Assistant Coach for the upcoming 2017 season.
“His roll will be assisting the coaching staff in most aspects of the program, mostly assisting Coach [Steve] Hay and the coaching the pitchers,” said Stiffler. “He will help out in the bullpen as relievers are getting ready, and make sure they are prepared. We will also help with conditioning and arm care aspects of the pitching staff.”
Blanchard is no stranger to the Black and Gold, as he was a member of the 2015 Super Regional squad that also won the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship. A hard throwing right-handed pitcher, he finished 2015 with a 4.21 ERA in 2015 going 2-3 in 13 appearances with 12 starts. His 70 strikeouts ranked third among the pitching staff that season, trailing only JoJo Howie and Heath Dwyer.
Stiffler added, “We are happy he decided to come back, and want to learn the business and learn about coaching at the collegiate level. It is our responsibility to put him in situations to learn about the entire business and every aspect of the game.”
In addition to coaching, Blanchard will be finishing his degree at VCU, which he had put on hold to pursue a career in professional baseball.
“As far as him coming back, it’s great. We always want our guys to come back,” said Stiffler. “Matt pursued a professional career and was unable to continue with it due to some injuries. So having him for one, to finish up his degree is the most important and most satisfying. To know he wants to come back here and help us and give his time back to VCU is great. He was a great player, he was a winner, he played on the Super Regional team, and to have that knowledge, experience, and youthfulness is important. Not too long ago, he was dealing with the same things these guys are dealing with, and he’s in class with a lot of those guys right now. So those guys are seeing him in class, getting his degree, and getting his work in, he’s a great example for our guys.”
The Rams open their season on February 17, as they head to Tallahassee, Florida for a three-game series against the Florida State Seminoles. VCU’s first home game at The Diamond will come on Tuesday, February 28 against Old Dominion.