Head coach Jake Boss announces impressive recruiting class for the Spartan program.
MSU earns a No. 3 seed in the Palo Alto Regional and will face Pepperdine.
MSU baseball program will host an advanced hitting clinic on Dec. 3 and three camps on Dec. 4.
Graham Sikes enters his third year as an assistant coach for the Michigan State baseball program. He also serves as the program's recruiting coordinator.
Sikes primarily works with the Spartan outfielders and hitters while also coordinating the base running program. In his first two seasons on the Spartan staff, Sikes has played an integral role in helping the Spartans win the Big Ten Championship in 2011 and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2012.
Michigan State ranked in the top three in the Big Ten Conference last season in batting average (.297), on-base percentage (.378), runs (345), hits (645), RBIs (319), walks (228) and total bases (858). In addition, MSU finished 16th in the nation in hits and 35th in batting average. The 645 hits were the second most in a single-season in MSU history, while the 356 runs were eighth most, the 97 doubles tied for ninth most, and the 319 RBIs were 10th most in the school record books.
Jordan Keur, who started in all 60 games in the outfield in 2012 (49 in left field, 11 in center field), was the team's batting champion with a .353 batting average - an improvement of .93 from 2011 (.260) - and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. His average was also the eighth best in the Big Ten. Keur shared the John Kobs Most Valuable Player Award and was also named the Steve Garvey Most Improved Player.
During Sikes' first season in 2011, Michigan State led the Big Ten and ranked seventh in the nation with a .318 batting average. The Spartans also ranked among the conference's leaders in hits (first with 639), slugging (second at .427), on-base percentage (second at .385), runs scored (second with 348), RBIs (second with 317) and doubles (second with 115). In addition, the Spartans were fourth in the Big Ten with 77 stolen bases, which also ranked seventh most in an MSU season.
Spartan center fielder Brandon Eckerle, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, not only won the Big Ten batting title with his .379 average, but was also one of the top defensive players in the nation. The Spartan outfield helped MSU turn in an overall fielding percentage of .976, which was tops in the Big Ten and 24th in the nation.
Prior to arriving in East Lansing, Sikes spent three seasons (2008-10) as the volunteer assistant coach at Notre Dame and has also coached at James Madison, Young Harris (Ga.) College, Nicholls State and Independence Community College (KS). Throughout his career, Sikes has coached 36 players who have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft, including six who have reached the Major Leagues. He primarily works with the outfielders and hitters at MSU while also coordinating the base running program.
While at Notre Dame, Sikes primarily coached the catchers and outfielders. He also oversaw UND's expansive baseball camp operations and helped coordinate the program's annual Opening Night Dinner. Sikes coached 14 players who were drafted during his three seasons at Notre Dame.
In working with the Irish catchers, Sikes tutored Cameron McConnell, who threw out 26 base stealers in 2009 - the most by an Irish catcher since 1996 and seventh most in the nation. McConnell threw out 36.1 percent (26 of 72) of attempted base stealers on the season, which was the second-highest percentage for an Irish catcher since 1996, and followed that effort by throwing out 12 more runners in 2010. In addition, Sikes coached Will Harford, who was selected in the 45th round (No. 1,357 overall) by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.
An assistant at James Madison for the 2007 season, Sikes helped instruct the Dukes hitters while working directly with the catchers, the position he played at Liberty University. While at JMU, Sikes coached Kellen Kulbacki who was named 1st Team All-American in 2006 & 2007, CAA Player of the Year in 2006 & 2007 and Co-National Player of the Year (NCAA). He had been promoted to recruiting coordinator at JMU three weeks before heading to Notre Dame.
Sikes previously was the recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and catcher's coach at Young Harris (Ga.) College in 2006, helping direct a Mountain Lions team that racked up 48 wins while being ranked eighth among the nation's junior college teams. He coached seven players on that team who were MLB Draft picks during the 2006 season.
Sikes' first coaching position came in the fall of 2004, when he was named the assistant coach for Independence (Kan.) Community College and worked primarily with the team's hitters, catchers and outfielders. After the fall season at Independence, Sikes earned an assistant coaching position at Nicholls State (La.) University and went on to work with the team's catchers while assisting with the hitters during the 2005 season. Sikes mentored Nicholls State player John Brummet as he made the transition from third base to catcher, and that position switch helped land Brummet a professional contract with the Oakland Athletics' organization (he went on to be promoted to AAA in his first professional season).
From 2005-07, Sikes worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates as an associate Major League Baseball scout, with his coverage area including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. He also coached one season (2005) for the Florence RedWolves of the Coastal Plain League.
Sikes was a four-year letterman at Liberty in Lynchburg, Va., helping lead the Flames to a pair of Big South Conference championships and two NCAA Regional appearances. During his career as the Flames' catcher, Sikes threw out better than 50 percent of attempted base-stealers. He started behind the plate for the team's win over Seton Hall in the South Atlantic Regional, producing the school's first NCAA Tournament victory in any sport.
During his senior season, Liberty finished among the nation's top-10 leaders in nearly every offensive statistic, as the Flames hit .337 with 86 home runs, 30 triples, 151 doubles and 111 stolen bases. Twenty-four of his Liberty teammates went on to careers in professional baseball.
Sikes earned his undergraduate degree from Liberty in 2002 and went on to earn a master's degree in health and physical education from Emporia (Kan.) State University in 2006.
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