HARROGATE, Tenn. — Lincoln Memorial head baseball coach Jeff Sziksai has announced his staff for the 2016 season. Former Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) assistant coach Josh Epstein and former LMU graduate assistant coach Justin Haywood have been hired as full-time assistants, while Kyle Floyd, a two-year letterwinner with the Railsplitters, has been tabbed as the program’s graduate assistant.
Epstein takes over as the Railsplitters’ pitching coach after serving in that same capacity for two seasons with the Bloomsburg Huskies, an NCAA Division II program located in Northeast Pennsylvania. In 2014, under Epstein’s assured direction, the Huskies’ staff combined for a 3.16 team ERA with only 100 walks in 347.1 innings.
Bloomsburg finished with a 28-19 record that season while setting the single-season program record with a 20-8 mark in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) East play. That season, Epstein coached a pair of All-PSAC performers (Casey Cooperman, Tyler Hill) as well as Bloomsburg’s first-ever All-Atlantic Region selection (Cooperman).
Prior to his tenure in Bloomsburg, Epstein, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, spent six total seasons at Ramapo College of New Jersey. In his three seasons as the pitching coach, the Roadrunners compiled a 95-45-1 cumulative record and made three NCAA Regional Tournament appearances. In his final season, the Roadrunners went 30-16-1 with a stingy 3.24 ERA. Ramapo accumulated a 5.76 ERA the season before Epstein took over as the pitching coach.
Epstein is also a proven commodity on the recruiting trail, as the Roadrunners placed 15 players on the All-NJAC teams, 22 on the All-NJCBA teams and had two earn Player of the Year recognition with Epstein on staff.
Epstein played one season of professional baseball with the Petach Tikva Pioneers of the Israel Baseball League after completing his collegiate career at Ramapo College, where he was the team captain and the school’s SAAC president.
“Josh is a great addition to our staff and comes to our program with a proven track record of success developing pitchers both at Bloomsburg and Ramapo. He has also been very successful as a recruiter, and I am confident he will be a great asset to our program on that front as well,” Sziksai said. “In the interview process, Josh stood out with his ability to communicate his plan on how he wants to develop our staff and win recruiting battles. He is a man of exceptional character and I am looking forward to working with him in hopes of bringing more championships to the LMU baseball program.”
Haywood takes over as a full-time assistant coach after serving as the program’s graduate assistant for the past two seasons. While assisting with recruiting, he will primarily be responsible for working with the Railsplitters’ hitters and catchers, which have flourished under his guidance since he arrived on campus.
During his first season with the Railsplitters in 2014, Haywood helped the Railsplitters finish in the top-3 in the South Atlantic Conference in batting average (.308), doubles per game (1.93), home runs (39), home runs per game (0.87), on-base percentage (.398), runs (327), scoring (7.3 runs/game), and slugging percentage (.461).
Lincoln Memorial compiled a 27-17-1 record that season.
Haywood has spent his last few summers as an assistant coach for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he helped win an East Division II title in 2014. Combining his time with both the Railsplitters and Mariners, Haywood has seen 20 of his former players sign Major League Baseball (MLB) contracts, including first-round picks Ian Happ and Jonathan Harris. He was also on Lincoln Memorial’s staff when former standout pitcher Logan Sawyer was selected in the 29th round by the Colorado Rockies.
Before coming to LMU, Haywood was an assistant coach for two seasons at Marist College. During that stint, his catchers compiled a .989 fielding percentage and gunned down 33 percent of would-be base stealers, while the offense ranked second in the MAAC with a .298 batting average. Marist went 52-49-1 and had two players selected in the MLB draft during Haywood’s tenure.
He began his collegiate coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at Old Dominion University in 2011 under Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Coach of the Year Nate Goulet.
Haywood graduated from Louisville in 2010 after completing his four-year career with the Cardinals baseball program. During his time at the University of Louisville, the Cardinals won four Big East titles, made four NCAA Regional appearances, two Super Regional appearances and one World Series appearance, and combined for a 185-77 record. He was twice named to the Big East Academic All-Star team.
“Justin was the perfect fit for this position, and I was excited to have the opportunity to bring him back,” Sziksai said. “He has already spent two years in our program working with our catchers and hitters, knows our hitting philosophy and system very well, and I have no doubt he will continue to develop our offense in the future. He also has five years of recruiting experience, and has proven that he can identify quality players, many of whom are already in our program. Justin relates to our players very well, and I am confident he will continue to be a great asset for our program.”
A native of Windsor, Illinois., Floyd takes over as the program’s graduate assistant coach after two stellar seasons as the Railsplitters’ starting catcher. Floyd was twice recognized with All-South Atlantic Conference merits, as he finished his two-year tenure at Lincoln Memorial with a career .349 batting average, 95 hits, 23 doubles, four home runs, 54 RBI. a .500 slugging percentage and a .437 on-base percentage.
Floyd threw out 23 would-be base stealers and compiled a .985 fielding percentage over that same span. He made 84 appearances with 76 starts in his career, helping the Railsplitters combine for 53 wins in two seasons.
Before arriving at Lincoln Memorial, Floyd played two seasons at Kaskaskia College, where he won the Region 24 Championship and the Northern District Championship in 2013 while also making an appearance in the NJCAA Division I World Series. That same season, he was recognized as both the North District and Region 24 Catcher of the Year.
Floyd was a two-time All-National Trail Conference first team selection at Windsor High School, where he graduated in 2011. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln Memorial in 2015.
“Although Kyle is new to college coaching, he has already made an impact on our program on the recruiting trail and on the field. As a player for me the last two years, Kyle was always very intelligent and a hard worker,” Sziksai said. “I think those things translate into coaching and I am confident he will make a great addition to our staff.”