Mike Ott enters his ninth season as head coach, having distinguished Hornet baseball on and off the field. His players and teams have set numerous records.
Following a 2019 season that saw the Hornets rebuild their roster with 22 freshmen and miss the MIAA tournament qualification (top four in the league) for the first time since 2013, the Hornets were poised to jump back into the upper echelon of the MIAA in 2020. Kalamazoo embarked on two road trips to start the 2020 season, with the Hornets winning three of four games in California and then winning their road series against Earlham to bring their record to 5-2. That was where the season ended as the spring season was canceled due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19.
In 2018 as the Hornets completed another successful and winning season, their third straight, that also earned the program its fourth straight year of reaching the 20-win plateau. The team also finished in second place in the MIAA regular season for the second consecutive season. The Hornets saw a member of their program on the All-Region team for the third consecutive season (Ryan Orr) and notched their second straight season of placing a player into professional baseball as Orr signed with the River City Rascals of the Frontier League. The team also achieved its second consecutive year of earning Academic All-MIAA accolades as a program.
In 2017 the program set a school record for overall wins in a regular season (31), placing Kalamazoo in elite company as one of only three teams in the conference to ever reach the 30-win mark. Individually, the Hornets earned their first baseball All-Americans in school history (Ryan Orr, second team; Ian Kobernick, third team). Orr and Kobernick also earned All-Region honors. In addition, Orr was named the co-outstanding pitcher in the conference, marking only the second time in the program’s history a Hornet has received this MVP-level recognition. The first professional signing of a Hornet since 1927 came after the 2017 season as Steve Simmons signed with the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL). The 2017 Hornets set eight individual season records and 15 team season records. Off the field, Kalamazoo made program history notching the program’s first Academic All-MIAA award. The award is given to teams that carry over a 3.3 cumulative GPA for the entire school year.
Off the field in 2017, the baseball program was recognized for its work in the community winning both a local and national award for their community service. The program was awarded locally with the Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo award for their work over Ott’s tenure in the Kalamazoo Public School system and nationally with the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA) and Jostens community service award for an Array of Projects.
The trend of rising excellence has been the hallmark of Ott’s tenure. His 2016 squad set the record for most wins overall (24) and played in the NCAA Midwest Regional tournament, a first in program history. That year the Hornets earned their first All-Region player awards (Orr and Jack Clark).
The 2015 Hornets set a new school record for most wins overall (20), aided in part by a group of 12 new recruits that included the Prep Baseball Report Michigan Player of the Year and the MHSBCA East-West All-Star Baseball Classic Game MVP.
In 2014, Ott’s first recruiting class, which was the largest in school history, paid immediate dividends, sparking Kalamazoo to one of its finest seasons in the program’s history in just his second year. The 17 wins on the year was good for the second-winningest season in the school’s history. The team broke multiple records, including individual single-season hits, hit by pitch, most hits in a season, most triples in a season, and stolen bases in a game. These records were accomplished by one of the youngest teams in the nation, featuring 20 freshmen and one senior.
Kalamazoo baseball has made a mark outside of the conference since Ott’s hire. The Hornets have regularly placed players on the national stage in some of the most prestigious summer collegiate leagues. Over the past three seasons the Hornets have placed an impressive number of players across the country in leagues ranging from the Alaskan League, Coastal Plains, Great Lakes League, New York Collegiate, Northwoods League, Ohio Valley, Perfect Game Collegiate, Texas Collegiate League, Virginia Beach Collegiate and the West Coast League. The Hornets have had three of their players earn all-star bids from the Great Lakes League (Jack Clark, 2015) to the Northwoods League twice (Ryan Orr, 2014 & 2015) and the Virginia Beach League (Chase Coselman, 2018), as well as winning the Northwoods League Championship (Ryan Orr, Kenosha, 2014). Most recently, the Hornets placed a player in the renowned Cape Cod League (Ryan Orr, 2017). Providing an experience and environment for players to receive national exposure as well as compete in leagues not often accustomed to seeing Division III players is a tremendous developmental and playing opportunity; one that has grown for Hornet players under Ott’s tenure.
Ott came to Kalamazoo College from Holland Christian High School (Mich.) where he served as the head varsity baseball coach for eight seasons, compiling a career record of 180-84 over that span. Ott led the Maroons to conference championships in 2005 and 2008, district championships in 2006 and 2011, and the school’s first regional championship and state quarterfinal appearance in 2006. Ott’s teams were ranked in the state for seven straight seasons, garnering the school's first No. 1 ranking in 2007, and finished the 2011 season posting the school’s first 30-win season. The Maroons also compiled six of the school’s eight 20-win seasons under Ott. Seven of his players earned all-state honors, while four were selected to play in the Michigan All-Star Classic at Comerica Park. In addition to his coaching duties at Holland Christian, Ott also served as the school's assistant athletic director, sports information director, and information director from 2006-2012.
Prior to his time at Holland Christian, Ott worked with Calvin College as an assistant/pitching coach from 2002-04 under Head Coach Jeff Pettinga. In 2011-2012 Ott returned to assisting Calvin’s program under Head Coach John Sparks in the off-season and prior to the start of his high school season. While at Holland Christian he also aided two Division I programs working with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, in 2011-2012 under Head Coach Scott Malone; and also at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in 2006-2007 under Head Coach Buddy Gouldsmith. He has also served as a camp instructor at several NCAA Division I institutions. In 2014, Ott served as the associate head coach/pitching coordinator for the Kalamazoo Growlers in the Northwoods League.
Ott graduated from Calvin College in 2002 with a degree in elementary education where he pitched for the Knights for four seasons and was a two-year captain and a key member of the 2000 and 2002 MIAA championship teams. He earned a master’s degree in athletic administration/sports studies from Western Michigan University in 2006. Prior to earning his master’s degree, Ott pitched professionally in the Frontier & Northern Leagues before retiring after two shoulder surgeries.
Coach Ott's Record at Kalamazoo College
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1