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Danny Hayden brought some hardware to Oxford in his first year at the helm of the Miami University baseball program in 2014.
The RedHawks posted a 30-27 overall record and took home the Mid-American Conference East Division title with an 18-9 mark in conference play. Both records were MU’s best since the 2011 campaign while the MAC East crown was the program’s first since the 2005 season. Hayden is the second coach in program history to claim a MAC overall or division title in his first season.
Miami boasted a balanced lineup that finished second in the MAC with a .284 average. Eight RedHawk regulars hit .284 or higher, including five batters with a .305 or higher average. The RedHawks also boasted two weekend starters (Seth Varner and Ryan Powers) who heard their names called in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June. Both of those hurlers earned All-MAC honors with Varner becoming the first Miami pitcher to win MAC Pitcher of the Year and Powers getting placed on the All-MAC Second Team. Additionally, two position players earned spots on the All-MAC team in senior third baseman Dan Walsh (First Team) and freshman second baseman Steve Sada (Second Team).
In addition to the solid season on the field, the RedHawks are getting some help off the diamond to make McKie Field an even more attractive spot for the future. On April 26, Miami Athletics broke ground on the Legacy Project at Hayden Park. The $3 million project will move the baseball staff into a 10,000 square foot, two-story complex connected to McKie Field at Hayden Park. The new facility will include upgraded locker rooms, offices, training and equipment rooms along with a reception area. The project is all funded private donations that were raised by its expansive alumni network in conjunction with the Red & White Club.
"I am excited for this project to get underway,” Hayden said. “Our goal for this program is not only to be the best team in our conference, but to also establish ourselves as a power in both our region and in the country. This project will make Miami baseball even more attractive to potential student-athletes. Our mission in recruiting is to attract the best student-athletes possible and this will help. My most sincere thanks go out to all of those people who made this lasting impact possible."
Hayden was named Miami’s 16th head baseball coach by Director of Athletics David Saylor on July 23, 2013.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to lead such a wonderful program,” said Hayden. “Miami has been and will always be a place that I care deeply about. My passion for this institution will drive me to see that Miami Baseball lives up to the expectation set by all the great people that have been here before me. I am eager to work with our young men as they embrace the challenge of returning Miami to a championship level. There will be many great days ahead for this program, and I am so proud to be a part of it.”
Hayden came to Miami after spending three seasons as an assistant coach at Xavier University. At Xavier, Hayden coached all aspects of hitting and offense--coordinating practice plans for both offense and defense on a daily basis--while overseeing other areas of the program such as travel and academics.
He worked closely with 2011 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Ben Thomas in his first season with the Musketeers. During Hayden’s Xavier tenure, three players advanced to the professional level, while six Musketeers earned all-conference honors and five earned academic all-conference accolades. He also helped the Musketeers post three of the top five win totals in program history. In both 2011 and 2013, his offense cracked the program’s top 10 list for hits and doubles, while also notching a top 10 mark in runs scored in 2011.
“I am really excited for Danny and the Miami baseball program,” said Xavier Head Baseball Coach Scott Googins, a former assistant coach at Miami. “He did an unbelievable job for Xavier and is going to be missed tremendously. It is a great opportunity for him to build on the Miami baseball tradition.”
Hayden is no stranger to Miami, playing for the RedHawks as a freshman in 2004 and also serving on the staff from 2008-10. Hayden spent two years on the Miami staff, serving as the director of baseball operations for the 2009 season and as a volunteer assistant coach the following year. During his Miami stint, Hayden worked closely with the coaching staff and had a hand in all facets of the program while serving as the first base coach.
“Miami University is a special place with a special culture, both from an academic and athletic standpoint; and I think Miami got a coach who understands that unique culture better than anyone,” said Arizona State Head Baseball Coach Tracy Smith, who was the head coach at Miami from 1997-2005. “Danny has been around Miami University and elite amateur baseball his entire life, and it is going to be fun to watch him use this to his advantage as he continues to build on Miami’s rich baseball tradition.”
From 2008 to 2010, Hayden was an assistant coach with the Midland Redskins, helping guide the nationally-prominent summer league program to two national championships and one runner-up finish. During his three-year stretch on the Midland staff, Hayden coached 27 players who were selected in the Major League Baseball draft, including four first-round picks.
As an undergraduate, Hayden was a catcher on the 2004 RedHawk team that produced 36 wins, including a 14-8 Mid-American Conference record, and captured the MAC East Division title.
Hayden played his final three seasons at Xavier where he served as captain of the 2008 team that seized the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship. He was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 47th round of the 2008 MLB draft.
Hayden, a Cincinnati native who graduated from McNicholas High School, earned his bachelor’s degree from Xavier in 2008.
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