The 2017 season marked the third season at the helm of the UNC Asheville baseball program for Scott Friedholm. Friedholm, who has led the Bulldogs to 62 victories in his three years at the helm of the program, was appointed head coach on June 17, 2014.
The 2017 Bulldogs were probably a year ahead of where Friedholm and others expected them to be as evidenced by UNC Asheville being picked to finish 10th in the conference prior to the season by the league’s coaches. With a young roster that featured 16 underclassmen, including nine freshmen, the Bulldogs mounted a successful campaign that saw them claim 25 victories, including six series wins, en route to finishing tied for fifth in the regular-season league standings with an 11-13 record. UNC Asheville capped the year by advancing to the Big South Conference Baseball Championship for the first time since 2012.
The 25 wins is tied for sixth-most in program history and marked the second time in the Scott Friedholm era that a team had collected at least 20 wins, becoming just the fourth Bulldog head coach to win 20 or more games in multiple seasons. More importantly, the Bulldogs were not swept during the season and were the only Big South Conference team to defeat every other program in the league during the campaign.
During the season, the Bulldogs took series wins over Iona, UMBC and Longwood at home and also claimed road series over Presbyterian and Campbell and won two-of-three in Spartanburg in the second weekend of the season. The Bulldogs also posted a winning record at home (12-11) for the first time since 2012, when UNC Asheville also finished 12-11.
The 2017 Bulldogs went 11-13 in Big South Conference action, finishing tied for fifth in the league standings to earn the No. 6 seed in the league tournament. The 11 wins in conference action were the most since the Bulldogs won 12 league games in 2012.
Earning a berth into the postseason was not enough for the Bulldogs as the team won a game in the postseason tournament for the first time since 2008 and then took it another step further by winning multiple games (2) while advancing to the semifinal round for the first time since the 2007 season.
Following the season, Joe Tietjen was named an honorable mention All-Big South player and earned his second Big South Conference All-Academic Team honor. Freshman Brandon Lankford was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball News, a first for the program since 2004, and earned Big South Championship All-Tournament honors for his efforts during the tourney. During the season, freshman Chris Troost was named the Big South’s first-ever Freshman of the Week and Lankford earned the honor the following week.
Statistically, the Bulldogs saw a 10-year low in errors in the field and posted a 10-year high in fielding percentage as a team while the Bulldog outfielders finished second in the nation for outfield assists with 18. The Bulldogs also caught 33 runners attempting to steal, a 10-year high. UNC Asheville’s pitching corps continued to make strides as they combined for a 6.05 team ERA, the lowest under Friedholm’s watch, and struck out 365 batters, the most in the last 10 campaigns. On offense, the Bulldogs posted the most stolen bases (56) since the 2010 team swiped 58 and had the most extra-base knocks (134) since the 2008 team recorded 178.
The 2016 campaign saw the Bulldogs finish the season with a 16-38 record, including a 3-2 road win over 11th-ranked UNC. The win over the nationally-ranked Tar Heels marked the first time any UNC Asheville program had bested a team from UNC. Asheville also claimed series over Mount St. Mary’s, Presbyterian College and Charleston Southern.
Following the season, outfielder Joe Tietjen was named to the All-Big South Second Team as well as the Big South Conference All-Academic Team.
In his first season with the Bulldogs, Friedholm led the 2015 Asheville team to a 21-34 overall record in a season that saw several individual superlatives as well as the offense improving its production by more than 100 runs in just a year, ending the season in the Top 80 among NCAA Division I teams in runs scored. Senior Tommy Houmard was named an All-Big South Conference first-team selection, while fellow senior Hunter Bryant was a second-team selection. The pair, along with senior Nick Schavone, were each named second-team All-State performers by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association (NCCSIA) as well.
Houmard finished the season as one of the top 25 shortstops in the country and was on the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List for the entire season after being one of over 100 players on the initial preseason listing.
Friedholm came to Asheville from Boston College, where he spent four seasons as the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach. While in Chesnutt Hill, he worked to make the 2014 campaign the best season for the BC pitching staff, registering an ERA of 4.27, a four-season low. The Eagles also tallied 352 strikeouts and a .261 opponent batting average over 489 innings.
Prior to his time in at BC, Friedholm spent five years at the United States Naval Academy in the same roles. He guided the Midshipmen’s pitching staff to the highest five-year win (149), strikeout (1,757) and save (59) totals among any other five-year stretch. He developed the first two pitchers to ever be drafted out of Navy while also mentoring 12 All-Conference selections, three Freshman All-Americans and one All-American. The Midshipmen won 30 games in four of the five years he was at Navy. The program had done that just three times in the previous 110 years.
The two pitchers drafted from Navy, Mitch Harris (13th round – St. Louis Cardinals) and Oliver Drake (43rd round – Baltimore Orioles), both made their Major League debuts in 2015.
Before heading to Annapolis, Friedholm spent four seasons as both the recruiting coordinator and pitching coach at the University of Maine, producing three MLB draft picks from his staff and also helping guide the Black Bears to two NCAA Tournament appearances. His staff at Maine ranked amongst the top 25 in the country in ERA two of his four seasons.
Friedholm got his collegiate coaching start as the pitching coach at Bryant University, where the Bulldogs set school records in both overall and Northeast-10 Conference wins in consecutive years in both of his years with the program.
Friedholm played four seasons at Providence College from 1995-1998. As a freshman, he was part of the Friars squad that won 44 games and a program-record 16 Big East games en route to earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament. He earned All-Big East and All-Region honors in 1996 as a sophomore. As a senior, he hit .395 with 13 home runs and a school-record 66 RBIs, earning All-American honors. He signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay organization in June 1998.
Friedholm graduated from Providence in 1998 with a B.A. in History. He and his wife, Angie, have two sons, Cooper and Camden.