July 1, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Notre Dame third-year assistant baseball coach Scott Lawler has been elevated to the position of associate head coach, Irish head baseball coach Dave Schrage announced Tuesday.
Lawler will continue to oversee the Irish recruiting efforts and instruction of the hitters and infielders.
"Scott is simply one of the best young assistant coaches in the country and extremely deserving of this promotion," said Schrage. "He has made an immeasurable impact on this program over the past two years and will continue to do so well into the future."
"It has been an absolute joy for me to a part of the Notre Dame family, especially the baseball program the past two years," Lawler said. "I'm thrilled with the opportunities this new position offers. We have such a bright future ahead of us here at Notre Dame and I'm excited to be working so closely with our players and coaches, as we compete for a national championship."
Lawler was instrumental in the signing of two top-notch recruiting classes, including last year's recruiting class (players who just concluded their freshman seasons) that ultimately was rated by Collegiate Baseball magazine as the fourth-best incoming class in the nation. Baseball America listed the class as the sixth best in the country.
On the field, the Irish continued to make major improvements in 2008, in large part due to Lawler. Notre Dame raised its team batting average from .274, which ranked eighth in the BIG EAST in 2007, to .309 this past season - good for fourth in the league. The Irish defense also made tremendous strides. Notre Dame posted just a .962 fielding percentage and committed 82 errors in '07 (ranking sixth and eighth, respectively, in the BIG EAST). This past season, the Irish tied for the league lead with a .973 fielding percentage and committed the second fewest errors in the conference. In fact, the 58 errors are the fewest by a Notre Dame squad since 1982.
Lawler - considered one of the top young coaches in the nation and a product of an impressive baseball pedigree - was reunited at Notre Dame with Schrage. He previously served as an assistant to Schrage for five years (four with the additional role of recruiting coordinator), first at Northern Illinois during the 2001 and '02 seasons and then for three years at Evansville (2003-05).
Lawler returned to his spot alongside Schrage in the summer of 2006, after spending 2005-06 as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas-Little Rock. While at Little Rock, he had the unique opportunity to serve on the staff of his uncle Jim Lawler, whose status as a household name in the world of college baseball includes 22 seasons as a member of the Texas A&M baseball staff and being named national assistant coach of the year in 2003.
Lawler has even more coaching ties, as his father Phil Lawler has coached for the past 31 years in the Chicago area, including 26 seasons as associate head coach of the Naperville Central High School team that won the 2006 Illinois state title.
A utility player in his undergraduate days at Morehead State and Simpson College, Lawler has remained a two-way talent on the coaching level with successful stints serving as the hitting coach at Northern Illinois and then the pitching coach for Evansville. He assisted his uncle in overseeing all positions of the team at Arkansas-Little Rock.
Lawler was a key component of Schrage's rebuilding success stories at Northern Illinois and Evansville before heading to Little Rock in July of 2005 to coach with his uncle, who targeted his nephew for the staff due to his experience rebuilding programs. In one month's time, the Lawler duo had assembled a new group of eight recruits that was rated by Collegiate Baseball magazine among the nation's "best of the rest" (just outside the top 40) for classes entering in the fall of 2005. Prior to leaving for Notre Dame, Lawler had helped his uncle sign a class of 19 for the 2006 season, as the Trojans continued on their rebuilding project.
Two Arkansas-Little Rock pitchers who were coached by Lawler moved on to professional baseball after the 2006 season, as senior Rob Harmon was drafted by the Seattle Mariners while fellow right-hander Trevor Clay was a free-agent signee. Lawler's time in Little Rock also included coordinating the baseball program's budget, fundraising and spring game schedule.
Lawler's three seasons at Evansville saw the Aces pitching staff lower the team ERA every season, culminating in a 4.46 ERA for the 2005 season. Many of the players he recruited ended up being key ingredients in the record-setting 2006 season that featured the Aces winning the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles before reaching the final game of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional (capping a 43-win season). In fact, eight players from that squad signed professional contracts in 2007.
His 2005 recruiting class at Evansville was included among Collegiate Baseball's annual "best of the rest" and his 2005 staff featured three pitchers who received all-MVC honors. Most notably, Michael Greenhouse developed under the guidance of Lawler into a 2005 Chicago Cubs draft pick.
Lawler's recruiting highlights included signing eventual 2004 MVC newcomer of the year Cody Strait and 2004 Freshman All-American Pat Tumilty. Prior to leaving Evansville, he signed two prospects who were ranked in the nation's top 100 by TeamOneBaseball.com: Ben Norton (the 2006 MVC newcomer of the year) and catcher Kirk Bascu, who later received all-MVC honors. His numerous duties at Evansville also included organizing the summer camp program, managing compliance needs and team travel.
Schrage and Lawler joined an Evansville program that had won only 22 games in the 2002 season, and then proceeded to guide the Aces in building their victory total each season - including 24-31 in 2003, 28-32 in '04 and 35-23 in '05. The pair earlier had overseen a similar turnaround at Northern Illinois, where Schrage took over a program that had won only four games in the 1999 season. That victory total grew to 24 in 2000 before Lawler joined the staff for a 2001 season that produced the most wins in the history of the program (28-27) and the first winning record by a Northern Illinois baseball team in 20 years.
Lawler initially joined the Northern Illinois staff as a volunteer assistant but one month later he was moved into the vacant second assistant's position, after making a strong impression on Schrage. He coached the Huskies hitters and outfielders, including Freshman All-America first baseman Trevor Stocking, while also organizing the program's fundraising efforts.
He later was promoted to the additional role of Northern Illinois recruiting coordinator for the 2002 season and helped sign a class that produced two Freshman All-Americans (first basemen Scott Simon and pitcher Mark Badgley) and two others - infielder Joe Mazzuca (12th round, Seattle Mariners) and pitcher Nick Hall (free agent, Philadelphia Phillies) - who eventually were drafted or signed by Major League teams. Another one of his Northern Illinois signees, outfielder Mike Santoro, later signed with the San Francisco Giants in 2005. Lawler also took on the duties of infield coach and camp director in 2002.
Lawler's collegiate playing career began at Morehead (Ky.) State, where he played from 1995-98 as a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman before transferring to Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa) for his senior season.
A native of Naperville, Ill., Lawler graduated from Simpson College in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in sports administration. He went on to earn a master's in public service administration from Evansville in 2005. He and his wife, Kim - who also comes from an athletic family and was a member of the cross country team at Northern Illinois - welcomed their son Lucas Raymond to their family on Dec. 21, 2005, and daughter Alexa on Sept. 24, 2007.
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