In a press conference held on Wednesday, Troy University head baseball coach Bobby Pierce announced he will retire following the 2015 season.
Pierce, who is entering his 13th season as coach of the Trojans, informed his team at a meeting on Tuesday.
Pierce enters the 2015 season only 15 wins shy of surpassing Troy legend Chase Riddle for the most wins in school history.
"Troy University, the Troy community and the entire Trojan nation have been nothing short of phenomenal to me, my family and our program over the years," Pierce said. "I have put everything I have into playing and coaching for 51 years of my life. When you invest that much for that long, your tank runs a little low."
Mark Smartt, who has served as an assistant coach for Pierce's entire tenure, has already been pegged as the program's next head coach.
"It's a little overwhelming, to be honest, I hate to see (Pierce) go," Smartt said. "To know that I'll be listed among the same names as Chase Riddle and Bobby Pierce is a little hard to fathom. I'm so proud that the leadership at Troy has the confidence and faith that I can take on this challenge and I'll do everything I can to continue the work that has been done before me."
Smartt has accumulated 894 wins in 27 years as an NCAA player and coach. He was a member of Troy's 1986 and 1987 NCAA Division II National Championship teams, and was a two-time All-Gulf South Conference player.
"Bobby Pierce has accomplished so much during his career as a player and coach. As we've gone through these conversations, the one thing that has come out of that is how selfless he is. Nothing is about Bobby Pierce, everything is about the student-athletes," Troy Director of Athletics John Hartwell said. "There is one person that makes sense for this job and next June we will be extremely excited to name Mark Smartt as our next baseball coach."
Pierce took control of the Trojan baseball team in 2003 and turned them into contenders winning four conference titles in 12 seasons. The team has averaged 35 wins per season since his arrival and has made four NCAA Regional appearances.
Pierce has coached 15 All-Americans and has had 28 players who signed professional contracts. He has also been named Sun Belt Coach of the Year twice, in 2009 and 2014, the 2005 Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year and is an Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee.
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