The defending Valley Baseball League champion New Market Rebels are pleased to announce that Matt Schaeffer, assistant coach at South Florida State College, will join the Rebels as head coach for the 2019 season.
“We are very happy that Matt Schaeffer has agreed to be our field general for the Rebels’ quest to retain the Jim Lineweaver Trophy,” Rebels president and general manager Bruce Alger said.
“Matt’s achievements at South Florida State College and as head coach and general manager of the Palm Beach Diamond Ducks of the South Florida Collegiate League, in addition to his three years of playing experience at the D-1 level and stellar academic record at Appalachian State University, make us confident that New Market will be a highly competitive entry in the Valley League 2019 campaign.”
In Schaeffer’s first year with South Florida, the Panthers had the most overall wins (27), and most conference wins (13) in a six-year span.
In their 2018 season, the Diamond Ducks went 27-12 to capture first place in the North Division, led the league in numerous offensive and defensive categories, had 14 All-Star selectees, and had three players who earned All-League first team honors.
"First and foremost, I want to thank the New Market Rebels for selecting me to lead the club on the field and in the community this summer,” Schaeffer said in a telephone interview. “The history behind the Valley League and the New Market organization is strong and we'll look to add to that moving forward.”
"Last year’s team went on an outstanding run to claim the championship. Following up such an achievement is a huge challenge and I look forward to defending that championship effort by matching it with one of our own- both on and off the field."
A native of Vermillion, SD, Merrigan graduate from Oklahoma State University (OSU) in 2001 where he was a twice named 2nd Team All-Big 12. He was drafted 3 times, signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001. Merrigan played in the Cardinal and and Rockies organizations from 2001 to 2003, playing independently with the Sioux City Explores and Sioux Falls Canaries from 2003 to 2004.
He has been coaching at various levels since 2004, most recently serving as Assistant Coach / Pitching Coach for Youngstown State from 2016 through 2018. Merrigan served as a Program Coordinator and Legion Coach for Sioux Falls West from 2006 to 2010. He employed a 161-127 record and guided West to a state title and 3rd place Central Plains Regional finish in 2007. Merrigan was instrumental in establishing the Renner Post 307 program in 2011, serving as the programs first Legion Head Coach in 2011 and 2012, prior to joining the college coaching ranks.
Merrigan has coached several players into the collegiate ranks and three players that have been drafted by Major League Baseball.
Coach Knight returns to the Rebels for his second season with the team. Knight was a part of the 2018 championship team helping as an assistant coach and coaching first base. During the 2019 season, Knight will be working with the hitters.
During the school year, Coach Knight teaches and is the Head Baseball Coach at local high school, Stonewall Jackson. Knight assisted the Generals on the state runner up team as they reached the state title game for the first time in program history during the 2017 season. Knight led the Generals to a regional semi-final in 2018 before losing to the eventual state champions by a final score of 6-5 in 8 innings. The Generals were two outs away from a return trip to the Virginia state championships.
Coach Knight had his playing career cut short by a series of knee injuries prior to entering Radford University. During his playing days at William Monroe High School in Stanardsville Virginia, Knight received all district and regional honors as a centerfielder. Knight completed his high school playing career committing only one error in centerfield and finishing with a career batting average of .457. Knight was often mentioned on the top ten list of Central Virginia's leaders in batting average and fielding percentage.
Coach Knight completed his bachelors degree in Media Studies (Sports Journalism) from Radford University in Radford Virginia and also just completed his Masters degree in teaching from Liberty University in Lynchburg Virginia. Knight currently resides in Broadway Virginia with his wife Chelsea and their one year old son Parker.