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Frank Leoni
Position: Head Coach
Experience: 20 Years
Phone: 757-221-3399
Email: baseball@wm.edu
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Frank Leoni
Courtesy: TribeAthletics.com
Release: 01/01/1999
Frank Leoni enters his seventh year at the helm of the William and Mary Tribe baseball program in 2012. Loaded with talent, the Tribe has aspirations of contending for a CAA Championship.

The 2011 season was highlighted by the play of the Tribe in the CAA conference schedule.  The College won seven of its 10 conference series, posting a record of 16-14.  Of its seven CAA series wins, four of those came on the road at Old Dominion, Delaware, Northeastern, and Towson.  The four road series wins set a school record, while the 16 CAA victories tied for the most in the Leoni era, tying the 2006 team.   Pitching was once again the strength of W&M in 2011, as the team posted the third-ERA in the conference (4.43) and led the league in opponent batting average (.266).

Individually, Logan Billbrough became the first Tribe hurler to be named CAA Pitcher of the Year after his fantastic senior season.  The Miami, Florida, native was dominant this season, leading the conference with a 2.58 ERA, 97.2 innings pitched, and 105 strikeouts.  Billbrough became just the third different W&M pitcher to strike out more than 100 batters in a season, with his 105 K's ranking fourth all-time on the Tribe's single-season list.  After graduating, Billbrough signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, becoming the 10th former Tribe player to sign a professional contract under the tutelage of Leoni.

Along with Billbrough earning First-Team All-CAA honors, sophomore Brett Koehler and senior Jonathan Slattery also earned all-conference recognition.  Koehler was named second-team after leading the team with eight saves, while Slattery was named third-team after collecting 40 RBIs and scoring 35 runs.

The 2010 season saw the Tribe accomplish a great deal, highlighted by Leoni winning his 400th career game with a 10-9 win over Longwood on April 20, 2010. With the win, Leoni notched his 134th victory at William and Mary. Previously, Leoni won 266 games as the head coach at Rhode Island before leaving URI for William and Mary as the Rams all-time winningest coach. Also last season, Leoni was inducted into the Rhode Island Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. At the induction, Leoni was presented with the Ben Mondor Award, recognizing his lifetime service to Rhode Island baseball.

As a team in 2010, the Tribe posted some impressive numbers. The College’s pitching staff posted an ERA of 4.87, which ranked second in the CAA and 52nd nationally out of 292 teams. The 4.87 earned run average was the lowest for the College since 2004. Defensively, the Green and Gold posted a fielding percentage of .969, the best in the CAA. The Tribe also continued its dominance at Plumeri Park, posting a record of 24-7 (.774). The 24 victories were the second-most in one season at the Park and the .774 winning percentage was also the second best all-time at Plumeri.

Individually, sophomore Matt Davenport recorded one of the finest seasons in the program’s history. Davenport set the school record for ERA (1.96) while posting a record of 8-2. Davenport became the first Tribe pitcher since 2002 to earn First-Team All-CAA honors, and also went on to garner First-Team ABCA/Rawlings All-East Region and Second-Team VaSID All-State accolades in 2010. Also earning All-CAA recognition were sophomore Stephen Arcure and freshman John Farrell. Arcure was named second-team all-conference after leading the team with a .339 average, while Farrell was named to the CAA All-Rookie team after setting the Tribe’s freshman record for saves with six.

During the 2009 campaign, the Tribe had many great moments, highlighted by Leoni’s 100th win at William and Mary on April 7, 2009. In the 2-1 victory over Liberty at Plumeri Park, Leoni became the fastest coach in W&M history to reach the 100-win milestone. Another highlight for the Tribe in 2009 was its play down the stretch. In a stretch of games from April 12 to May 10, the Tribe went 12-3, winning series against James Madison, Towson, and Longwood. Included in those games was also, arguably, the College’s best win of the season, a 14-10 come-from-behind win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The Green and Gold scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth to win its first game against the Hokies in 18 years.

Individually, Senior Rob Nickle led a group of five players that earned all-conference recognition in 2009, being named to the All-CAA Second Team, while classmate Tyler Stampone and junior Kevin Landry were named to the third team. Freshmen Matt Davenport and Chris Forsten were each chosen for the All-CAA Rookie team for their fine freshman seasons.

After the season, the College saw three of its players move on to the professional ranks. Junior Kevin Landry was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 21st round of the MLB Draft, while both seniors Tyler Stampone and Jeff Jones signed free agent contracts with the Orioles and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, respectively.

The 2008 team surpassed all expectations in piecing together a 36-21 record, only one win shy of tying the school record for victories in a season, and sending four players into the professional ranks in the MLB draft. The Tribe posted an out- standing 26-6 mark at Plumeri Park, and finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 16-13 record. Returning to the CAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, the Tribe handed No. 1-seed UNC Wilmington only its fifth loss of the year to a conference team, and was one of the last four teams standing in the semifinal round. One of the nation’s most dangerous teams at the plate, W&M finished the year ranked third in the NCAA with a .343 batting average, and also led the CAA in fielding defense for the second year in a row.

Commensurate with the team’s success, several players had outstanding individual seasons in 2008 as well. Mike Sheridan followed up his 2007 campaign by leading the team and the league in batting, and was rewarded with third-team All-American honors from the ABCA and Louisville Slugger, in addition to being named W&M’s first VaSID State Player of the Year, first-team all-region, All-ECAC, All-CAA, all-state, and to the Wallace Award Watch List, Howser Trophy Watch List, and the CAA all-tournament team. Sheridan would go on to become the first of four Tribe players taken in the MLB Draft, being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the first pick of the fifth round.

Along with Sheridan, both catcher Tim Park and outfielder Ben Guez earned All-American honors, giving the Tribe three All-Americans in one season for the first time ever. Park was a third-team selection by Louisville Slugger and made three Player of the Year watch lists, while Guez was tabbed by the Jewish Sports Review with first-team honors and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 19th round.

In 2007, the squad posted a 29-25 mark and boasted a 21-10 record at Plumeri Park. Additionally, the Tribe led the Colonial Athletic Association in team batting average (.319) and fielding percentage (.969). The season also marked a milestone for Leoni, who earned his 300th career win when the Tribe defeated Towson, 6-0, on March 18.

In addition to the success experienced by the team collectively, a number of individuals posted impressive seasons under Leoni’s tutelage. Leading the group in 2007 was Greg Sexton, who was selected to five All-America teams after finishing the season ranked second nationally with a .455 batting average. Honored as the CAA co-Player of the Year, Sexton was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the first pick of the 10th round. The selection marked the fifth consecutive season in which Leoni had a player drafted, as Joe Kantakevich was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the 13th round in 2006 and Rhode Island sent at least one player to the professional ranks in each of Leoni’s last three seasons.

A hallmark of Leoni-coached team is tenacious, fundamentally sound hitting. After earning CAA All-Freshman Team accolades in 2006, first baseman Mike Sheridan continued to improve with Leoni’s guidance and was honored as the 2007 NCAA statistical champion for the toughest player to strikeout. With just five strikeouts in 209 at-bats, he finished the year with a ratio of just one strike- out per every 41.8 at-bats. The impressive figure represents the nation’s best mark since 1999. Sheridan is the second player to accomplish the feat under Leoni’s tutelage. In 2001, All-America shortstop Mike LaBarbera led the nation with just five strikeouts in 198 at-bats.

During his initial season in Williamsburg, Leoni guided a relatively inexperienced W&M club to a 23-29 record overall and an 11-19 mark in CAA play. Despite the modest record, the College improved consistently throughout the season and finished the year by winning 10 of its final 13 contests, missing the CAA playoffs by just a single game. During the impressive stretch run, the Green and Gold claimed three of its final four conference series and was playing as well as any team in the league.

In addition to rebuilding the product on the field, Leoni has been instrumental in a number of upgrades to Plumeri Park. While the facility already ranked among the best in the CAA, the minor renovations have enhanced the park. Among the upgrades were natural grass base lines on each foul line, a 10-foot artificial turf halo added behind the home plate area, bi-level wooden benches in the dugouts, stadium padding on the backstop, and most recently concrete padding added to the covered hitting area under the 3B bleachers.

Leoni came to the College after a long and successful stint as the head coach at the University of Rhode Island, where he remains the winningest coach in the school’s history. A URI graduate, Leoni guided the Rams for 13 seasons and led the program to unprecedented success. In addition to compiling a 146-118-1 record during his final five seasons, he led the squad to two consecutive Atlantic 10 regular-season championships and three consecutive Atlantic 10 East Division championships. In 2005, Rhode Island posted a 34-21 mark and earned the program’s initial NCAA Tournament berth after claiming the school’s first ever A-10 title. Under Leoni’s watch, the Rams earned at least 24 wins in each of his last seven seasons and compiled a conference record of 54-18 from 2003-05.

In 2004, Leoni led the Rams to a then school-record 35 victories and a 20-4 mark in A-10 play, becoming just the second school in league history to win 20 conference games. His accomplishments did not go unrecognized, as he was named the A-10 Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004 as well as New England Coach of the Year in 2004.

“We are really excited to have Frank Leoni as our new baseball coach,” W&M Athletics Director Terry Driscoll said at the time of Leoni’s hiring in August, 2005. “His 13 years at the University of Rhode Island demonstrated his ability to overcome the challenges necessary to build a program to an NCAA-caliber competitor. In that same period, his teams demonstrated tremendous academic success. Together, his academic and athletic success makes him a terrific fit for the College of William and Mary and its baseball program.”

“I am extremely honored to become the next head baseball coach at and Mary,” Leoni said at the time of his hiring. “This is a tremendous opportunity, and I thank Terry Driscoll and the entire William and Mary community for their confidence. I am excited to get started and to build upon the tradition of William and Mary baseball.”

“My plan for Tribe Baseball is to build a program in which every student- athlete, coach, administrator and alumnus feels a strong sense of ownership and pride,” Leoni said. “In the long-term, my goal is for William and Mary to become the model baseball program in the CAA - one which enjoys exceptional on-field success without compromising the educational mission of its student- athletes.”

Coupled with his team’s success, Leoni oversaw the development of a number of players who continued their baseball careers in the professional ranks. Four of Leoni’s players were drafted from 2003-05, while two others signed professional contracts.

In 2005, pitcher Zack Zuercher was drafted in the ninth round by the Saint Louis Cardinals. Additionally, third baseman Mike Rainville and closer Mick Lefort signed free agent contracts with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Chicago Cubs, respectively. Following the 2004 season, second-team All-America first baseman Dan Batz was a sixth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers. That came on the heels of pitchers Reid Willett (Chicago Cubs, 21st round) and Jared Trout (Oakland Athletics, 28th round) getting drafted following the 2003 season. Another of Leoni’s top recruits at URI, Stephen Homes, was selected by the New York Mets during the fifth round of the 2006 MLB draft. In 2001, shortstop Mike LaBarbera earned All-America status and signed with the Montreal Expos.

While the accomplishments on the field are impressive, Leoni’s commitment to developing student-athletes who excel in the classroom is also notable. At Rhode Island, he coached two District I Academic All-Americans and four Academic All-Conference selections during his final three years. The tradition of success has continued at W&M, as Sexton and Jeff Lunardi ‘05 have each earned Academic All-District III acclaim. Additionally, the ‘05 URI team and ‘06 W&M squad were recognized among the top 10 percent of all D-I programs for the Academic Progress Rating (APR).

Not only was Leoni a presence on the field, he had a positive impact on the Rhode Island community. He ran several clinics for local children, and his summer camps were among the most popular in New England.

The Cranston, Rhode Island, native was an A-10 All-Academic performer as a shortstop for the Rams and held six school records at the conclusion of the 1991 season. He earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1990 and completed work on his master’s degree in Business Administration from URI in 2003.

Leoni and his family live in Williamsburg.
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