SIUE baseball expands its coaching staff

SIUE baseball head coach Sean Lyons has finalized his roster for the 2023 season. Joe Kelch has joined the program and will work with Cougar hitters as well as home defense. Adam Vasil, who spent the 2022 season as a volunteer coach, was hired as the Cougars’ pitching and catching coach. Bailey Vuylsteke will serve as a volunteer coach working with pitching staff, specializing in data and biomechanics. He will also participate in baseball operations under the program.

I am excited about the three additions to our full-time staff,” Lyons said. “Their ability to build relationships with student-athletes on the field and on the recruiting track will be a great asset to our program.

A former volunteer assistant, Joe Kelch returned to SIUE after spending three seasons on staff at Illinois-Springfield. He spent last season as an associate head coach and served as the program’s scouting coordinator and batting coach.

“We’re really excited to have Joe and his family back at SIUE,” Lyons said of Kelch. “I knew success would follow him when he was our volunteer coach in 2017. He is one of the best young coaches in the country and has done a phenomenal job over the last three years at ISU. great baseball, a great person, and also a great role model for our student-athletes.”

In 2022, Kelch helped the top ISU team in program history. The Prairie Stars won their first GLVC Championship Tournament and captured NCAA Regional and Super Regional titles. UIS qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament for the first time.

UIS ranked sixth in NCAA Division II with 10.0 points per game and also ranked in the top 10 offensively in walks, doubles, hits, home runs, home run percentage. base and slugging percentage. Kelch has coached two All-Americans, including Zion Pettigrew, GLVC and Midwest Regional Player of the Year. Four other players earned All-GLVC and All-Region honors.

The 2021 Prairie Stars won the GLVC Regular Season Championship, reached the GLVC Tournament Finals, and were the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Tournament. The ISU finished the year with an overall record of 37-8 and a GLVC rating of 30-5. Kelch oversaw an offense that ranked fourth in NCAA Division II at 10.1 points per game. ISU was second nationally in batting average, fourth in slugging percentage, and seventh in on-base percentage.

Among the offensive stars Kelch coached was Pettigrew, who was named GLVC and Midwest Region Player of the Year. Kal Youngquist was also a first-team All-American and first-team All-GLVC selection. Both Austin Alderman and Chris Mathieu were all-region picks, and Chris Monroe earned first-team all-GLVC honors.

In Kelch’s first season of 2020, the ISU went 10-4 in the pandemic-shortened season. The Prairie Stars had one of the best offenses in NCAA Division II that year. UIS led the nation with 1.86 home runs per game and set an NCAA Division II single-season record with nine Grand Slams. The team was also in the top 15 nationally with 10.6 points per game.

Kelch came to UIS after spending two seasons coaching at Bradley University, where he focused on home defense and assisting hitters. While at Bradley, he helped the team’s hitters earn six all-conference honors, including four first-team honors. In his first season at Bradley in 2018, the Braves improved by 12 wins and finished the year with a 32-19 record. With Kelch on staff, Bradley’s batting hit .294 for the year, an improvement from the previous season’s mark of .268. Bradley also improved his on-base percentage and slugging percentage. In 2019, Bradley enjoyed another 30-win season after finishing the year with a 31-19 record.

Kelch’s first stint at SIUE was in 2017 as a volunteer assistant where he worked with home defense and batting. The Cougars went 23-29 that year, an improvement of 14 wins in a single season. In 2017, SIUE batters hit .293 and averaged 6.6 runs per game, an improvement of 2.5 runs per contest. Two hitters earned all-conference honors, including a first-team award, and another was named to the freshman team.

As a player, Kelch appeared in 163 games, making 136 starts for Illinois State from 2012 to 2016. He hit .289 with a .382 hitting percentage and .366 on-base percentage. He scored 72 runs and drove 63. He had 18 doubles, two triples and nine homers. He was named a second-team Missouri Valley Conference performer as a junior. That year, he hit .338 with on-base percentage above .400. He had 18 runs, 24 RBIs, eight doubles and four homers.

Kelch and his wife Emily have a son, Jackson.

Adam Vasil joined SIUE as a volunteer assistant in September 2021 and was elevated to a full-time assistant after the 2022 season. The Cougars improved by five wins with Vasil on staff and returned to the OVC tournament for the first time since 2015. SIUE won a pair of games in the tournament, their first wins in the championship.

“We are very happy to promote Adam Vasil and announce him as the pitching coach,” Lyons said. “Adam has a passion for player development and our players see that every day. Adam has built great relationships with our student-athletes over the past year and I’m thrilled to see his continued impact on our program.”

Vasil came to SIUE after spending the 2021 season in Miami, Ohio as director of pitching development and reliever coach. The Redhawks ranked fifth in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings (11.2), 16th in strikeouts ratio (3.07), 16th in ERA (3.61), 22nd for hits per nine innings (7.78) and 25th in WHIP (1.27).

In Miami, Vasil coached three pitchers who went on to play affiliate baseball, including Sam Bachman, who was the Angels’ ninth draft pick in 2021.

Prior to his time in Miami, Vasil was the head assistant coach at Coker University, a Division II school in South Carolina, where he also served as a head recruiter and pitching coach. Under Vasil, the Cobras improved their total strikeouts, strikeouts per nine innings, walks and hits allowed.

The Cleveland, Ohio native spent the 2019 college season as a graduate pitching assistant coach at the University of Indianapolis, where he also participated in game-day scouting. There, he helped the Greyhounds improve their overall ERA, runs allowed, batting average against, and WHIP.

Vasil also worked as a training specialist at Florida Baseball Ranch (now Florida Baseball Armory) in Plant City, Florida.

Vasil began his college career at Ashland University where he competed in back-to-back conference championships and was nominated for Rawlings Gold Glove. He finished with one season as a graduate at Indianapolis.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Ashland in 2017 and an MBA from Indianapolis in 2019.

Bailey Vuylsteke joins the SIUE baseball team as a volunteer assistant in August 2022. Vuylsteke will primarily assist the pitching team, specializing in data and biomechanics. He will also participate in baseball operations under the program.

“The addition of Bailey Vuylsteke brings more new blood to the staff,” added Lyons. “He brings experience from one of the best junior college programs in the country and a desire to learn and help develop pitchers.”

Vuylsteke spent the 2021 season at Iowa Western Community College, helping the Reivers to 49 wins. Iowa Western sent 24 players to play at the Division I level. The pitching staff set a school record for strikeouts with 620, which ranks fifth in the nation, while leading the nation in strikeouts in nine innings.

Prior to Iowa Western, Vuylsteke led the Quincy Gems in the Prospect League, a collegiate summer league. The team finished with a winning record in Vuylsteke’s first experience as head coach. Vuylsteke will manage the O’Fallon Hoots, another Prospect League side from 2023.

The St. Louis native spent time as a student assistant at Miami University, helping with pitchers and practice management.

As a player, Vuylsteke played two seasons at Jefferson College, averaging 3.43 ERA in 44 innings as a sophomore for a team that reached the NJCAA World Series. He ended his playing career with two seasons in Miami.

Vuylsteke earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management and leadership in Miami in 2020.

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