Veteran baseball coach Dave Schrage (pronounced Schrag) enters his 28th season as a collegiate head coach — and fifth at South Dakota State University — during the 2016 season. Schrage was hired to take over the reins of the Jackrabbit baseball program on Aug. 8, 2011.
“Dave Schrage’s familiarity with our recruiting area and his success in building programs like ours make him a tremendous addition to the Jackrabbit family,” Jackrabbit Athletic Director Justin Sell said in announcing the hire.
After posting an 18-33-1 record in his first season at South Dakota State, including a 7-14 mark in The Summit League, Schrage directed a big turnaround in 2013, leading SDSU its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level. The Jackrabbits, who ended the season with a 35-24 overall record, won four consecutive games to claim their inaugural Summit League postseason tournament title and advance to the Eugene Regional of the NCAA Tournament, where they were edged in a pair of one-run games.
SDSU again earned the top seed for the Summit League Baseball Championship during the 2014 season, finishing with an 11-11 mark in a tightly contested league race. Overall, the Jackrabbits finished with a 28-29 overall record. Six Jackrabbit players earned all-Summit League accolades.
The Jackrabbits again contended for a Summit League title during the 2015 season, posting an overall record of 33-23 and a second-place mark of 18-11 in league play. SDSU put together win streaks of six and eight games midway through the season to move into the upper division of The Summit League.
Under Schrage's leadership, the Jackrabbits have compiled a 114-109-1 record and qualified for the Summit League postseason tournament three times.
Schrage enters the 2016 campaign with a 710-771-2 career mark. He recorded his 600th career victory in his first season at SDSU, and tallied career win No. 700, when the Jackrabbits defeated Omaha, 5-1, on April 17, 2015, at Erv Huether Field. Schrage's 100th win at the helm of the SDSU program came on April 11, 2015, in a 5-4 home win over North Dakota State.
In 26 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he has averaged more than 25 victories per season, including six campaigns with 32 or more wins. He has coached players who have earned all-conference honors 75 times and 42 of his former student-athletes have gone on to play professionally, including 2015 draft picks Zach Coppola (Philadelphia Phllies) and Adam Bray (Los Angeles Dodgers).
Prior to South Dakota State, Schrage was head coach at Notre Dame for four seasons, leading the Fighting Irish to a 119-104-1 record from 2007-10. After posting a .500 record (28-28) his first season in South Bend, Schrage put Notre Dame back in contention for postseason play with a 33-21-1 record in 2008 and a 36-23 mark in 2009. The Fighting Irish led the BIG EAST Conference in fielding in both 2008 and 2009, while consistently ranking at or near the top in batting, on-base percentage and earned run average.
Schrage has previously found success in building programs at the mid-major level, including a four-year stint at Evansville (Ind.) from 2003-06, during which he guided the Purple Aces to a 130-108 record. Evansville improved its win total each of his four seasons, from 24 in 2003 to 43 in 2006. Schrage earned Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors for the third time in 2006 as Evansville won both the regular season and tournament conference titles, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Aces advanced all the way to the finals of the Charlottesville Regional, knocking off host Virginia before falling to South Carolina in the championship.
A Chicago native, Schrage directed a dramatic turnaround in his home state during a three-year run at Northern Illinois from 2000-02. After inheriting a team that was 4-51 the year before he arrived, Schrage’s squad turned in a 20-game improvement with a 24-33 record in his first season and then led the Huskies to a winning season in 2001 with a 28-27 overall mark. He was named runner-up for National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in 2000.
Schrage began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant under his predecessor at Notre Dame, Paul Mainieri, at St. Thomas University (Fla.) in 1984. He later returned to his alma mater, Creighton University (Neb.), as an assistant coach for two seasons.
From 1986-87, Schrage coached the Queensland Rams club team in Brisbane, Australia, before returning stateside as he gained his first head coaching job at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. From 1988-90 he led the junior college program to a 61-66 mark.
Schrage then spent nine seasons as head coach at the University of Northern Iowa, where he was named Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1997. His teams improved from two league victories in UNI’s first season in the MVC in 1992 to 18 during the 1997 campaign.
As a collegiate player, Schrage was an all-conference outfielder at Creighton, batting .400 as a junior and .433 his senior season. He also was an Academic All-America honoree during his senior campaign in 1983, and graduated that spring with a bachelor of science degree in finance. Schrage was honored on the MVC’s Centennial Celebration baseball team and is the only person in league history to earn all-conference honors and be named MVC Coach of the Year in baseball.