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Tech's Bragga honored as TBCA Coach of the Year

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association honored Tennessee Tech baseball coach Matt Bragga as Coach of the Year over the weekend at the annual TBCA awards luncheon.

"I am absolutely honored by this award," Bragga said. "It's one of those things that shows our program continues to make huge strides."

In his sixth season as coach of the Golden Eagles, Bragga led Tech to its sixth ever Ohio Valley Conference championship, a 31-24-1 record and Tech's third ever trip to the NCAA regional tournament, where the Golden Eagles eliminated No. 14 Alabama.

It was the fifth 30-plus win season in Golden Eagle history, and the first time it had been done in back-to-back seasons. Tech had two players named to the all-OVC team, and had six members of the OVC all-tournament squad after going a perfect 4-0 in the OVC tournament to claim the crown.

After the season Tech's A.J. Kirby-Jones, who was the OVC tournament MVP, was named an All-American honorable mention, and Golden Eagle pitcher Ryan Dennick was drafted by the Kansas City Royals. But Bragga led his team to success off the diamond as well. The Golden Eagles held the highest team GPA in program history for the second consecutive year, had 19 players named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, and five players named to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll.

"If it wasn't for the players, this honor wouldn't happen," Bragga said. "The guys we have are outstanding young men on and off the field. You have to have the right players and the right pieces all around you in order to win an individual award."

The award is the first Coach of the Year award for Bragga, and is fitting giving the path Bragga has taken to rebuild Tech's baseball program. Bragga increased Tech's wins each year from 2005-08 before winning his first OVC championship in 2009.

"I am thankful for those who nominated me and those who recognized me for this award, including Cookeville High School coach Butch Chaffin."

The Golden Eagles prepare to defend their title as the 2010 season begins Feb. 19 with a three-game series at Georgia Southern. Tech opens play at home on Feb. 26 with three games against Cleveland State.