ACU head baseball coach Britt Bonneau announced Monday that he has hired former Arkansas volunteer coach Brad Flanders as the Wildcats' new pitching coach and assistant recruiting coordinator.
Flanders replaces Josh Scott, who resigned earlier this month after one season with the Wildcats to return home to California and enter private business. Bonneau also announced that former Wildcat letterman and student assistant coach Sky Valenzuela will be the Wildcats' new volunteer assistant, replacing Sean Winston, who served in the role during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Aside from his on-field work, Valenzuela will help run all of ACU's camps throughout the year.
Flanders, who earned all-America and all-conference honors as a collegiate catcher and has seven years of coaching experience at the college level, spent the 2013-14 season as a volunteer assistant at Arkansas where he worked primarily with the Razorback catchers. Flanders will not only coach pitchers and assist Brandon Stover in recruiting, he'll also work with ACU catchers.
Flanders joins the ACU coaching staff after spending last season at Arkansas and the two previous seasons as the volunteer assistant coach at Saint Louis, working primarily with the catchers. Flanders worked with catcher Grant Nelson, who was drafted in the ninth round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nelson hit .338 in his senior season and added five home runs and 32 RBI. Defensively, Nelson threw out 15 would-be base stealers and had a .988 fielding percentage.
Before his time at Saint Louis, Flanders spent four seasons at Texarkana College, where he worked with the team’s pitchers, served as the recruiting coordinator and was also the first base coach. In 2010, Texarkana’s pitching staff finished the season with a 2.91 team ERA and the 2009 team won the conference championship after leading the league in strikeouts (193) and allowing the fewest walks (70). Seven pitchers that Flanders worked with at Texarkana College went on to play at the Division I level, two went to Division II and one was selected in the MLB Draft.
Flanders played two seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, earning junior college all-America honors in 2002 and also earning all-conference and all-region honors. Flanders then played two seasons at the University of Missouri where he earned all-Big 12 honors in 2003 after hitting .332 with six homers and 43 RBI. Flanders helped the Tigers to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of his two seasons at Missouri.
A native of Smithville, Mo., Flanders graduated from the University of Missouri in 2005 with a degree in agriculture.
"We are excited to add Brad Flanders to our staff," Bonneau said. "Brad will bring us a lot of knowledge to our staff. Over the last six years Brad has put a lot of time in in different roles while at Texarkana College, St. Louis University and, most recently, Arkansas. He'll bring a lot of energy to our program and help us tremendously though our NCAA Division I transition years."
Valenzuela graduated from ACU in 2012 after two seasons with the Wildcats. As a junior transfer utility player in 2010, he hit .344 in 15 games for the Wildcats, who finished 50-15 and reached the NCAA Division II South Central Region championship game before falling to Central Missouri.
As a senior in 2011 he hit .318 in 38 games (24 starts) for the Wildcats, who finished 24-23 on the season. He hit two home runs and drove in 15 runs for the Wildcats. He also appeared in nine games on the mound and finished 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings of work.
Prior to transferring to ACU, Valenzuela played at Sierra College where in two seasons he hit .284 for one of the top teams in the California State Community College system.
"I am excited to announce Sky as our new volunteer assistant coach," Bonneau said. "Sky will help coach our outfielders and our running game, while also serving as our first base coach. Having an ex-player who has spent so much time here in Abilene working with the community and has so much knowledge about our program makes this a perfect fit for our program."
Information for this story provided by Abilene Christian Athletics.