LITTLE ROCK – UALR baseball head coach Chris Curry has announced the addition of Russell Raley as the program’s new assistant coach. Raley has spent the past six seasons on the staffs at Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Incarnate Word.
"I couldn’t be more excited to bring Russell Raley into the UALR baseball family," said Curry. "Russell was the first person I thought of to join my staff when I had the opportunity to become the head coach at UALR. The first thing you talk about with Russell is his character and integrity. You won’t find a person that will question his work ethic, his loyalty and the professional way he handles his business.
"He was a very good player at Oklahoma and for the Yankees organization, and he has taught and coached at the highest level in the Big 12 and taken teams to Omaha," Curry continued. "We’re excited about the things he’ll be able to teach our infielders and hitters, and how he’ll help run the offense. Russell is a great addition not only to our university, but our community here in Little Rock."
Raley joined the Incarnate Word baseball program in the summer of 2013 and spent the past season working primarily with infielders while assisting with outfielders and hitters. UIW set a new program record for fielding percentage (.974) in his lone season with the team.
He joined UIW after one season on the staff at Texas Tech, where he was the Red Raiders’ hitting coach and first base coach while also working with the team’s infielders and outfielders.
During Raley’s one season at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders broke a school record with 68 defensive double plays turned – ranking sixth nationally – and set a school record with a .974 fielding percentage.
"UALR has landed a very good baseball guy who is very passionate about the college game and the way it is played," said Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock, who Raley also worked under at Oklahoma.
Raley worked with two Freshmen All-Americans in 2013 as first baseman Eric Gutierrez and catcher/designated hitter Jarrard Poteete were each named to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-America team.
He also coached four All-Big 12 selections (one All-Freshman Team pick), four Academic All-Big 12 picks and three Major League baseball Draft picks, including fifth rounder right-handed pitcher Trey Masek, in his lone season in Lubock, Texas.
"That is a big-time hire by UALR," said Kansas baseball head coach Ritch Price. "Russell is a great guy and I consider him one of the finest young coaches in America."
A former standout second baseman under Tadlock at Oklahoma (2003-06), Raley spent four years on the Sooners’ baseball staff from 2008-11, which included a College World Series berth in 2010. Raley assisted Tadlock with all of the team’s hitting instruction.
Raley helped guide the Sooners to 170 wins (an average of 42.5 wins per season) while ranking in the top three in the Big 12 in all but one campaign. The Sooners batted at least .307 in all four seasons and led the Big 12 in 14 offensive statistical categories, including batting average (2011), doubles (2008-09) and both base hits and home runs in back-to-back years (2009-10). OU led the Big 12 in runs scored during the final three years Raley was on the Sooners’ coaching staff.
"Russell was an outstanding and overachieving player at Oklahoma and he has that same mentality as a coach," said Texas A&M baseball head coach Rob Childress. "Russell is a tireless recruiter and does an amazing job with hitters and infielders."
During Raley’s coaching tenure at Oklahoma, the Sooners advanced to four consecutive NCAA Regionals, including the 2010 Charlottesville Super Regional and the College World Series. It marked OU’s first appearance in Omaha since 1995.
Raley had a two-year professional playing career with the Yankees farm system, playing second base, shortstop and third base in his career. After being selected in the 21st round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft, Raley played 43 games in Single-A and Double-A while batting .264 with nine doubles and 17 RBI in his pro career.
Raley was one of the top players in the Big 12 Conference during his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma. He was a three-time All-Big 12 selection while earning first team accolades in 2004 and second team honors in 2005 and 2006. He played in 208 career games at OU (191 starts) with a .314 batting average, 237 hits, 143 runs, 27 doubles and 103 RBI. His numbers remain in the Sooners’ all-time record book, including seventh in at-bats (754), eighth in games played (208) and 10th in base hits (237).
Raley graduated from Oklahoma in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in human relations. He and his wife, Chelsey, were married in August 2011.