Spurgeon, Ray Named Braves Assistants

New Staunton Braves head coach Nolan Neiman has completed his coaching staff for the 2018 season. Ross Spurgeon, pitching coach at the University of the Cumberlands, has been named the Braves’ pitching coach while Lukas Ray, an assistant at Florence-Darlington Tech, has been hired as the hitting coach.

In his first season at the University of the Cumberlands, Spurgeon helped lead the team to a No. 20 record in the final NAIA poll of the 2017 season. The team finished with a 43-17 record and the pitching staff ranked No. 12 in NAIA with a 3.62 ERA, The pitching staff also ranked No. 26 in the NAIA stats in strikeouts with 423, an average of 7.05 Ks per nine innings.

“Ross is one of the top young up-and-coming pitching coaches in the game,” said Neiman. “He has been fortunate to play for a great pedigree of coaches in high school and in college. His experience as a player and now a coach has him at a different level than most young coaches. Ross was a no-brainer hire for me. I am looking forward to watching Ross work with our staff to maximize their development.”

Spurgeon begin his college playing career at Cleveland State Community College where he was a weekend starter in 2011-12. While at Cleveland State, Spurgeon was a teammate of Thomas Huddleston, the Braves pitching coach in 2017,

Spurgeon finished his college playing career as a weekend starter at Division I Tennessee Tech. After college, he played two seasons of pro ball in the Frontier League.

Ray is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach and recruiting coach at Florence-Darlington Tech – a top junior college program. A year ago he was an assistant coach at USC-Lancaster.

Three words describe Lukas – energized, desire, commitment,” said Neiman..”These three things are the traits that I have seen from Lukas in a short time. He has tremendous energy for development and his players and an extreme desire to be a life-long learner of the game. And he is one of the most committed coaches to the ultimate goal of total player development both on and off the field. I could not be more pleased to have Lukas on staff.”

Ray played his high school baseball for Tim Christy at Myrtle Beach High School. Coach Christy was an assistant coach for the Braves for one summer, working with Staunton head coach Lawrence Nesselrodt.

Ray then played at USC-Lancaster where he was a member of the 2015 Region X championship team. Ray also played in a pair of summer leagues – the Golden State Collegiate League and the New England Collegiate League.