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Head Coach Jerry Stitt

Jerry Stitt finished his third season as head coach of the Wildcats having put the program on track for a return to the national elite.

After three straight last-place finishes in the Pac-10 South, Stitt has led the Cats to a trio of winning seasons thanks to improved pitching and defense and, under his direct tutelage, the continued success of Wildcat hitters.

The Cats ranked among the nation's leaders in doubles, triples, homers, runs scored and slugging percentage last year and reached as high as No. 2 in one national poll.

He followed last year's success with a stellar recruiting class, ranked fourth in the nation by Collegiate Baseball.

Stitt became just the fourth head coach in the past 76 years of Arizona baseball on July 3, 1996, following the retirement of Jerry Kindall.

"Jerry Stitt is without question the right person at the right time for the University of Arizona and Wildcat baseball, to lead us into our next era," UA athletics director Jim Livengood said at the time of his hiring.

"We're not giving him this job. He earned it."

Stitt had been the Cats' associate head coach since 1992. He joined the Arizona coaching staff in 1978 and had worked with the outfielders and as hitting instructor while serving as an assistant. He follows J.F. "Pop" McKale, Frank Sancet and Kindall, as the only head coaches since 1922 and is only the 14th coach in the 93-year history of Arizona baseball.

The offensive numbers Arizona has put up during Stitt's tenure as hitting coach are staggering. His first team in 1979 set Six-Pac records for hits (776), runs (542) and team batting (.328). The 1986 national championship team hit .337 with 74 home runs. The next season, Arizona set a school record with 76 homers while batting .329. The 1993 Cats led the nation in home runs (115), scoring (583 runs) and slugging percentage (.592). Jason Thompson and George Arias combined for 43 home runs that season. Arizona has the highest cumulative batting average in the Six-Pac in 1990s. The Cats have hit below .300 just three times in his 20 years as batting coach.

Major league hitters who learned from Stitt while at Arizona include George Arias, Tommy Barrett, Casey Candaele, Jack Daugherty, Terry Francona, Chip Hale, Ron Hassey, Tommy Hinzo, Jack Howell, Kenny Lofton, Damon Mashore, Brad Mills, John Moses, Dave Rhode, J.T. Snow, Dwight Taylor, Jason Thompson and Kevin Ward.

Among his highest praisers is the man he replaced.

"Coach Stitt has a real keen sense for scoring runs," Jerry Kindall, Arizona's head coach for 24 years, said. "He's very aggressive in his approach to offensive baseball-stealing, the hit-and-run, base hits, bunts. Where many coaches will kind of hold back, Stitter creates base hits.

"At getting runs on the board, he's one of the finest I have ever been around. His techniques of teaching hitting, his fundamentals, are unparalleled. I gave him complete authority in teaching the hitters, and our statistics bear that out."

Stitt's reputation as a hitting instructor is even international as he spent the summer of 1988 in Europe teaching baseball to the Czechoslovakian National Team. He was also a guest coach at Szchweun Providence College in 1985.

Prior to joining the Arizona staff as an assistant coach on Aug. 15, 1978, Stitt had served as athletic director at Grand Canyon (Ariz.) High School for a year. Before that, he worked as a teacher and coach at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson from 1971-77. In addition to posting a 93-72 mark as the head baseball coach, he compiled a 37-19 record as the freshman football coach. On Nov. 10, 1994, Stitt was inducted into the Salpointe High School Hall of Fame.

Stitt's first coaching job came in 1970 when he led the Cats' freshman baseball team to a 14-12 mark.

Stitt had an outstanding playing career prior to his coaching days. He was an all-city player at Phoenix Central High School. He was then a first-team ABCA All-American as a center fielder for Arizona in 1968 when batted .366. Hit .326 for his three-year career, earning All-Western Athletic Conference and All-District 7 honors in 1967 and '68.

Following his senior season, Stitt was drafted in the 32nd round by the Cleveland Indians. He played in the Tribes' minor-league system for three years before retiring.

Stitt earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Arizona in 1968 and '73, respectively. He also earned his doctoral degree in educational administration from Arizona in 1996.

Stitt was born on Nov. 29, 1946, in Phoenix. He was married to the former Linda Ann Bendixen on July 22, 1971, in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

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