CARBONDALE - First-year Southern Illinois University baseball coach Lance Rhodes announced the hiring of Nick Magnifico (hitting coach and recruiting coordinator), Brad Neffendorf (pitching coach), and Ben Brewer (volunteer assistant) to his inaugural coaching staff.
"I had three priorities: High-character people, elite recruiters and proven winners," Rhodes said. "Nick and Brad exude all three of those qualities. Both Nick and Brad were names that kept coming across my desk from coaches and scouts from all over the country, which is a testament to their character.
"Over the past several years, they have dedicated themselves to flat-out recruiting. The number of connections they have made throughout the country resulted in successful programs. I am extremely excited to have them teamed up together to help bring a championship to Carbondale."
Magnifico, a Lexington, Missouri native, began his coaching career at Heartland College in 2016, where his team won 43 games, won a league championship, and ranked top-10 nationally in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs and stolen bases. At Central Missouri in 2017, his offense posted a team batting average of .313 and averaged 7.6 runs per game during a 32-win season.
Most recently, Magnifico engineered a turnaround at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. In the two seasons prior to Magnifico's arrival, the Islanders were at least 10 games under .500; but under Magnifico, Corpus Christi posted back-to-back 30-win seasons while leading the Southland Conference in batting average, runs, hits and RBIs in 2018.
"We talk a lot about the right fit, and Nick is exactly that for Saluki baseball," Rhodes said. "He has strong recruiting ties and has recruited at an extremely high level not only regionally, but nationally. He had tremendous success at Heartland Community College and the Central Missouri before helping Texas A&M Corpus Christi improve their win total by 12 wins from 2016-19. Along with being a great recruiter, Nick has played a huge part in developing some high-scoring offenses, and I look forward to seeing him develop and mold our hitters here at SIU."
Neffendorf comes to SIU after winning a 2019 NAIA national championship at Tennessee Wesleyan. Neffendorf won six conference championships in nine seasons coaching collegiately, including in each of the last five seasons. He has coached 15 NAIA pitchers who have signed professional contracts.
During his time at TWU, the Bulldogs went 186-66 (.738) and had two 50-win seasons. In his first year at TWU, Neffendorf's pitching staff lowered its ERA by a full run from the previous season. Over the course of Neffendorf's four years at TWU, the Bulldogs spent 18 weeks ranked in the top-10 nationally. His staffs at both TWU and Campbellsville broke five program records, including the staff ERA record at each school.
"Brad comes highly recommended and is rightfully deserving," Rhodes said. "He has led some of the best pitching staffs in the country over the last several years at the NAIA level. His track record on both the recruiting and pitching side of things are very impressive, capped off by winning a national championship last year. I couldn't be more excited to see him get to work here at SIU and begin putting his mark on our team and pitching staff."
Brewer, a former player at UT Martin, spent the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, leading the Bulldogs to a 65-34 record in that span (.657). At MGCCC, he coached Brandon Parker, the 2019 NJCAA Division II National Player of the Year and a 10th round MLB Draft pick.
In addition, Adam Harris will enter into his second season as the program's graduate assistant, where he leads SIU's analytics and student managerial team, along with program operations.