NATCHITOCHES - Jon Paul "J.P." Davis, part of the Northwestern State baseball coaching staff for the past 12 seasons including the last five as head coach, has resigned and the Demons are looking for a new leader for the program, director of athletics Greg Burke said Thursday.
Davis served as the pitching coach under head coaches John Cohen and Mitch Gaspard from 2000-2007, taking over as head coach when Gaspard moved to the University of Alabama. In his 12 seasons, NSU baseball posted an overall 379-294 record and won three Southland Conference championships (2001, 2002, 2005). Twice, the Demons ranked in the NCAA Top 20 in earned run average.
His five seasons as head coach were highlighted by academic accomplishment in the program and a near-miss of the 2010 Southland Conference championship, with the Demons finishing second by half a game due to a snowstorm that cancelled the final game of a series at Stephen F. Austin. NSU was 22-10 in league play that season, 36-21 overall, and was briefly ranked No. 30 in the country by Collegiate Baseball in its April 20 poll.
Davis finished with a 131-139 head coaching record overall, 82-75 in Southland Conference competition, 57-35 in the first three seasons but just 25-40 in the last two as the Demons did not qualify for the eight-team conference tournament field. NSU played 16 games against NCAA Tournament teams in 2012 while finishing 19-32 overall and 14-19 in the conference.
"J.P. is appreciated for the time and energy he has dedicated to the NSU baseball program over the past 12 years, including five seasons as head coach. He has also devoted himself to making a difference in the lives of Demon baseball players over those years and for that, is definitely appreciated, as well. I wish J.P. the best of luck in his future endeavors.
"We have a great baseball tradition here and we are determined to enhance that with our new head coach," said Burke. "We will move swiftly and surely to make the right hire from what we know, from past experience, will be a rapidly developing pool of outstanding candidates for a very attractive Division I baseball job."
A half-dozen of the 2012 Demons are expected to be selected in the upcoming MLB Draft next week, led by high-round prospect pitcher Mason Melotakis. Nine pitchers and 15 NSU players overall, including a school-record five in 2010, have previously been chosen in the MLB Draft while Davis has been on board.
He coached three Freshmen All-America pitchers as NSU won the Southland Conference earned run average titles three times and 28 pitchers captured all-conference honors.
"I want to especially thank the players and coaches I've worked with during my years at Northwestern State," said Davis. "We got a lot accomplished even while the level of competition in the Southland Conference rose to new levels in recent years, and we played very tough non-conference schedules. There are many people at and around NSU who have supported our program and me personally and I'm grateful to them for that and their friendship.
"Leaving a place where you've completely invested your life for the past 12 years is difficult, but I walk away proud of the guys I coached, coached with, and especially what's gone on in the lives of so many of our former players. We've always had a strong commitment to academic achievement in our program, we've been strong in graduating players and helping them develop as young men, and that's truly the most important part of coaching," he said.
The baseball team has consistently seen two-thirds of its student-athletes qualify for the academic honor roll with grade point averages of 3.0 or better. The program's projected NCAA Academic Progress Rate for 2011-12 is a perfect 1,000 score. Among Davis's players was 2009 Academic All-America first baseman Mike Jaworski along with several Academic All-Southland honorees.