After five seasons as the head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Rodney Batts is returning to his alma mater as Delta State University's 10th head baseball coach. Director of Athletics Mike Kinnison named the former Statesman standout and assistant coach to the post on Tuesday, July 2. Batts will be formally introduced during a press conference on Monday, July 8 at 11 AM inside the Arant Family Meeting Room. The campus and community are encouraged to attend.
"After a thorough and rigorous search, I am pleased to name Rodney Batts as the 10th head coach in the storied history of our Delta State baseball program," Kinnison said. "Coach Batts is a product of our program and I have complete confidence that he will continue to lead the Statesmen in the way our fans, community and alumni have come to expect. He is a man of integrity and character, and he and Scottie are excited to return to Cleveland and the Delta State community."
He joins a distinguished list of former Statesmen who were given the opportunity to lead the program, including Don Ward, Bill Marchant and Mike Kinnison, who Batts is replacing in the dugout. All three previous alumni head coaches led the program to at least one appearance in the NCAA College World Series.
"Today's announcement is a dream come true," Batts said. "When I left for MGCCC in 2014, I hoped I might have the opportunity to return to my alma mater. I want to thank President Bill LaForge and coach Mike Kinnison for having the faith in me to lead our program. Scottie and I are excited about returning to Cleveland and we're ready to get to work."
Batts, a former All-Gulf South Conference second baseman, played for former skipper Bill Marchant during the 1995 and 1996 seasons at Delta State. He hit .334 with 24 doubles, eight triples, 10 home runs, 86 RBIs and 39 stolen bases during his DSU career.
Batts etched his name in the Statesmen history books when he hit one of the most dramatic home runs in Delta State and Gulf South Conference history - a three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to defeat Alabama-Huntsville and deliver DSU the 1996 GSC championship. The Statesmen went on to win the NCAA South Central Regional and finish fourth at the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship Tournament in Montgomery, Ala.
After being drafted in the 22nd round by Philadelphia and spending three years in the Phillies organization, the Columbus, Miss., native returned to the Statesmen as a graduate assistant coach in 1999.
In 2001, Kinnison named Batts a full-time assistant coach and for the next 13 seasons he helped guide the Statesmen to a remarkable 583-171-2 record while capturing four GSC titles and the 2004 NCAA Division II National Championship. The Statesmen made nine NCAA postseason appearances during his time as an assistant, including five trips to the College World Series.
Fifteen Statesmen were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft from 2001-2014, including 6th round selections Eli Whiteside (2001 | Orioles) and Brent Leach (2005 | Dodgers), and 11th round selections Dusty Hughes (2003 | Royals) and Brett Durand (2007 | Marlins).
In 2014, Batts was named the head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. During his five seasons in Perkinston, the Bulldogs won 119 games, including 75 in the last two seasons, and made back-to-back appearances in the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament in 2018 and 2019.
This past season, MGCCC went 29-18 on the diamond, including a 16-12 record in MACJC play. The Bulldogs swept Meridian CC 10-8 and 10-8 to advance to the Region 23 Tournament.
Batts graduated from Delta State in 1998 with a degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He later earned a master's degree in HPER in 2000.
He is married to former Lady Statesmen basketball standout Scottie (Moore) Batts of Senatobia. The couple have two sons, Austin and Reed.