Joe Wilkins enters his seventh season as the Dragons' head coach. Under his direction the TU baseball program established a new single season wins record with 32 in 2017, establishing a new benchmark for excellence that he and his coaching staff will try to eclipse in 2019. In addition to his head coaching experience with Tiffin, he also served as an assistant coach for TU from 2006-07 and 2011-12, helping develop the Dragons' pitchers and catchers as they made the transition to Division II baseball.
During Tiffin's record-setting 2017 season, five Dragons landed All-GLIAC honors, including Freshman Pitcher of the Year Michael Boswell. TU set new team records for win-loss percentage (.593) and strikeouts (332).
The Dragons were 21-29 overall in 2016, two wins more than the 2015 campaign.
Four Dragons grabbed post-season honors. Third baseman Nick Hueneburg and Alec McCurry, who saw time at first base and second base, were 2nd Team All-GLIAC. Hueneburg was also named 2nd Team All-Region. Right-handed pitcher Michael Cooperider and shortstop Isaac Perry were both named Honorable Mention All-GLIAC.
As a team, the Dragons fielded .966, good for 3rd in the GLIAC Conference and 3rd in the Midwest Region. Some highlights on the defensive side of the ball were shortstop Isaac Perry and third baseman Nick Hueneburg. The duo decrease their errors on the left side of the infield by 29 from 2015 to 2016.
In 2015, Logan Sendelbach headlined the post-season when he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th Round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Logan was the first player in TU Baseball history taken in the amateur draft.
To date, the Dragons have had six players make it to the professional ranks - five right-handed pitchers and a third baseman. Four of these have been under the direction of Coach Wilkins. Nick Rodesky signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014 after playing in the Pecos League with the Trinidad Triggers. In 2015, Joe Peretta was signed in the same league as Rodesky but with the Raton Osos. Infielder Jordan Chiero was also signed to the Pecos League in 2013 and played with the Taos Blizzard. Jordan Liette was signed to the Rockford Riverhawks of the Frontier League in 2012. In 1998, Gregg Prenzlin signed with the Canton Crocodiles of the Frontier League and played two years of Independent ball.
In just six years, Wilkins has had two first-team All-Conference award winners in Hueneburg and Garret Vernau (2014), five second-teamers in Hueneburg and McCurry (2016) along with Isaac Perry and Luke Fraley (2017) and Tyler Nichols (2014), and 12 honorable mention selections.
Wilkins was an assistant coach at TU from 2006-07 and 2011-12. As the pitching coach (2011-12), he guided the staff in lowering the ERA from 7.30 to 5.08. Wilkins helped mentor Pat Curtin and Jordan Liette, two key contributors in last season’s first ever trip to the GLIAC Tournament. Curtin was the GLIAC Co-Player of the Year for his efforts on the mound, in the field and at the plate. On the mound, he was 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA. The Dragons went 14-2 in the last three weeks of the season and Leitte was a major contributor. He was 4-0 with 29 strikeouts to just four walks and a 1.93 ERA in 28 innings during that stretch.
Wilkins, also responsible for helping the development of the catchers, saw K.C. Weber earn All-GLIAC honors in 2012. Weber caught in 43 games and hit .299. Weber was an extension of the coaching staff on the field and was as important as anyone in their 14-2 stretch run prior to the programs first GLIAC tournament.
Prior to Wilkins' return to TU, he was an assistant coach at Pepperdine (2010), where his responsibilities included training the catchers, helping to develop the offense and coaching first base. He helped second-year catcher Nate Johnson grind through a 54-game season in 2010, in which he caught all but one of 473.1 innings pitched and threw out 17 base runners - the fourth highest season total in school history. At the plate, Johnson led all Waves with nine home runs and 36 RBI en route to being named to the All-WCC Honorable Mention squad.
Wilkins spent the 2009 season coaching the catchers at Wake Forest, where he tutored Cape Cod All-Star catcher Mike Murray. Murray went on to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
Prior to working at WFU, Wilkins spent just over a year at the Florida-based IMG Academies where he worked under former Cleveland Indians bench coach Ken Bolek as the full-time catching instructor. He helped in the development of 2009 New York Yankees second-round draft pick J.R. Murphy. Murphy hit .627 in the spring of 2009 with 11 home runs in 102 at-bats. He added 34 extra-base hits and struck out just four times. Murphy was the backup catcher to Brian McCann for the New York Yankees in 2015 and is now with the Minnesota Twins.
Prior to IMG, in Wilkins' first stint at TU, he coordinated the recruiting efforts that helped in the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II and developed athletic marketing fundraising ideas to improve facilities. At Heminger Field, a new press box, back stop and pro-style seating have been added. A locker room, lounge area and coaches offices attached to the home dugout were completed in 2011.
During the summers of 2006 and 2007, Wilkins coached in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. In 2006, he was the third base coach and worked with the hitters, catchers, outfielders and infielders for the Delaware Cows. In 2007, Wilkins was the head coach for the Stark County Terriers. As head coach of the Terriers, he worked with players from such collegiate programs as Wake Forest, Kent State and Cincinnati.
Wilkins began his coaching career at Dublin (Ohio) Scioto High School in 2005, working with the catchers and serving as the off-season hitting instructor.
Wilkins earned four letters at Ohio State, earning All-Big-10 second team honors and being named the Most Outstanding Player at the Big Ten Tournament as a senior. His walk off home run vs. Indiana helped the Buckeyes cruise to the 2002 tournament title. OSU won two Big Ten regular season Championships, one tournament championship and advanced to three NCAA Tournaments, including a Super Regional appearance in 1999, during Wilkins’ collegiate career.
Wilkins played professionally for three years, spending time in the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm systems. He led the Northwest League’s Yakima Bears in hitting in 2002.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Wilkins graduated from Ohio State in 2005 with a degree in human ecology and a specialization in consumer affairs. He earned his masters of business administration in 2007 from Tiffin University.
Wilkins lives in Tiffin with his wife Vickie (Galaska) Wilkins.