The Huskies' relief pitchers have combined to post a 2.12 ERA this year
Huskies honor members of the 2013 squad before an exhibtion with program alumni
UCONN vs USF Game 1 (photo by Stephen Slade)
UConn vs Georgia Tech NCAA (photo by Stephen Slade)
UConnn vs Memphis American Tournament 5/28/16 gm 2 (photo by Stephen Slade)
UConn vs UCF AAC Tournament (photo by Stephen Slade)
UConn vs Memphis (photo by Stephen Slade)
Josh MacDonald joined Jim Penders' staff in 2012 and recently completed his sixth season as the Husky pitching coach. Under MacDonald, UConn has posted three of its four best team ERAs since 1980.
The Huskies pitching staff shattered the previous program record for strikeouts in a single-season with 575 strikeouts, breaking the previous mark of 558 set in 2016. The Huskies finished the season tied for first nationally in strikeouts per nine innings (10.1). For the first time in school history, two pitchers struck out 100 or more batters in the same season (Tim Cate 102, Wills Montgomerie 116).
For the second-straight season a Husky pitcher won Conference Rookie Pitcher of the Year, Mason Feole took home the honor in 2017. On March 4, the Huskies tied a school record with 20 strikeouts against Stetson. John Russell garnered third team ABCA/Rawlings Third Team All-American status after breaking the single-season school record with 14 saves. Three pitchers: Wills Montgomerie (6th Round), John Russell (16th) and Doug Domnarski (27th) were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft. Nine pitchers have been signed by major league clubs since the arrival of MacDonald.
MacDonald coached a pair of All-Americans in 2016, highlighted by Anthony Kay's Louisville Slugger Second Team All-America nod. Kay, who was drafted by the New York Mets with the 31st pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, was also tabbed as the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year and Most Outstanding Player in The American conference tournament; pitching the UConn to its first American Athletic Conference title. Freshman LHP Tim Cate was tabbed as the league's Rookie Pitcher of the Year and earned on a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America squad. As a staff, UConn established a new single-season program record with 558 strikeouts and picked up the fourth-most wins in single-season history (38).
In 2015, MacDonald led the Husky pitching staff to its first sub-3.00 team ERA since 1977, placing 14th in the country and second in The American with a 2.94 mark. The Huskies were also 14th in the country with a 1.20 WHIP and placed eighth in the nation with 7.53 hits allowed/nine innings. Leading the way was Third Team All-American Carson Cross, who became the 11th pitcher to earn All-America honors in program history before a 14th round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2015 MLB Draft. Cross was joined by Anthony Kay to make UConn the only team in The American with two First Team All-Conference performers. Kay became the first selection to the 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team during the season.
The 2014 Huskies finished 45th nationally with a 3.19 ERA, good for third best in The American Athletic Conference. MacDonald guided senior ace Anthony Marzi to a Third Team All-Conference season, helping Marzi move into the top-five in UConn history in several categories. Under MacDonald's counsel, freshman Andrew Zapata finished seventh in the nation and first in The American with a paltry 5.57 hits allowed per nine innings.
In 2013, the Husky pitching staff boasted a 3.42 earned run average, led by sophomore ace Carson Cross, who finished the year with a 9-4 record and a 2.44 earned run average. Cross was selected in the 24th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates as the 719th overall player taken and the 13th of the round. The Huskies finished the season with a combined 398 strikeouts in 574.0 innings pitched. UConn finished third in the BIG EAST in ERA and ranked 45th out of 296 teams nationally. Marzi and reliever David Mahoney were both named to the All-BIG EAST Tournament team during the Huskies championship run in Clearwater, Fla.
In 2012, the UConn pitching staff ranked fourth in the BIG EAST in earned run average, second in conference-only games, and third in batting average against. Marzi finished third in the league in ERA in conference games, while righty Scott Oberg was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. Oberg and fellow righty David Fischer were each chosen in the MLB draft, going in the 15th and 18th rounds, respectively.
MacDonald, a UConn alum, spent two years as the pitching coach with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League from 2010-11and served as an assistant coach in the CCBL All-Star Game for the West Division in 2010. During his time with the club, the Braves won the CCBL championship during 2009 and then won the Western Division championship in 2010. As an integral part of the coaching staff, MacDonald also guided one of his players to become the 2010 CCBL Outstanding Pitcher of the Year.
Prior to his stint with the Bourne Braves, he served as a pitching coach for Long Island University from 2007-2009, where he tutored four pitchers who went on to play professionally. MacDonald finished his collegiate playing career in 2006, after helping the Huskies to a second place finish during the BIG EAST regular season and a then school record 39 wins. At the time, he was third on the all-time pitching appearance list at UConn and is currently ninth after the 2012 season.
MacDonald served as the head baseball coach of the St. Thomas More Prep squad from 2010-2011, along with stints as head junior varsity basketball coach and assistant football coach. He was also a history teacher at St. Thomas More Prep during that time.
"Josh's experience in the Cape developing some of the best collegiate pitchers in the country, along with evaluation and recruiting skills honed at LIU provide a great foundation for what I believe is going to grow into a great coaching career," Penders said. "His loyalty to UConn and passion for teaching are going to be so well received by our student-athletes. I can't wait to work with him again."
MacDonald pitched in 62 games over the course of his career with the Huskies. He posted a 10-8 record out of the bullpen and owned a 4.85 earned run average. MacDonald struck out 86 batters in 154 innings and earned two saves, both in his senior season. He earned the first win in the Jim Penders era at UConn with an 8-3 win over Butler on March 3, 2004. In the summer of 2005, MacDonald was an All-Star in the Valley League and helped his team to a Northern Division Championship.
A 2001 graduate of Notre Dame High School of West Haven and a Milford native, MacDonald was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 47th round of the 2001 MLB Amateur Draft. At ND, he was a part of the 2000 Class LL State Championship squad and in 2001 was named the New Haven Register All-Area MVP.
MacDonald resides in East Hartford with his wife, Stephanie, and daughter, Avery.