BISON BASEBALL CAMPS COACHING STAFF


SCOTT HEATHER

Head Coach

Heather, Scott - Head CoachScott Heather was named the head coach of the Bucknell baseball program on June 18, 2012, succeeding the retiring Gene Depew. Heather spent the previous eight years as an assistant coach at Bucknell, helping the Bison to a pair of Patriot League Tournament titles and NCAA appearances.

A former pitcher at the University of Arkansas, Heather has served as the pitching coach throughout his tenure at Bucknell. Under his direction, the Bison pitching staff has posted an ERA of under 4.50 on three occasions. The staff had a 4.30 ERA in 2006, marking the team's lowest since 1983 (4.10), and it ranked fourth in the Patriot League with a solid 4.65 ERA this past spring.

During his tenure, Heather has tutored a number of outstanding pitchers, including 2011 Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Ryan Ebner. Additionally, Heather oversaw the development of 2008 graduates Jason Buursma and Mathew Wilson. Those two former Bison claimed back-to-back Patriot League ERA titles, while Buursma earned a pair of First Team All-Patriot League selections as a relief pitcher. Wilson, who was the 2007 Patriot League ERA champion, broke the school record for career shutouts and pitched a complete-game shutout against nationally ranked Florida State in the 2008 NCAA Tournament.

Heather has had the opportunity to see Bison pitchers selected in three Major League Baseball Drafts since his arrival in Lewisburg in August 2004. Buursma was drafted in 2007 (42nd round by Seattle Mariners) and 2008 (25th round by St. Louis Cardinals), while Kyle Walter was selected in the 18th round of the 2006 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.

In addition to his duties with the Bucknell pitching staff, Heather has served as the program's recruiting coordinator and has assisted with all fundraising projects during his time with the Bison.

Prior to his stint as an assistant at Bucknell, Heather served as an assistant coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith from 1999 to 2004.

Heather began his playing career at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., where he was MVP of the 1996 team that was ranked third nationally, before moving on to Arkansas. Heather lettered for the Razorbacks as a pitcher in 1997 and 1998, and then became a student assistant in 1999 when Arkansas won its first Southeastern Conference championship. He also pitched professionally for the Duluth Dukes of the Northern League in 1998.

Heather and his wife, Emily, live in nearby Mifflinburg with their two-year-old daughter, Ellie.


JASON NEITZ

Assistant Coach

nameFormer professional baseball player Jason Neitz joined the Bucknell staff in the winter of 2011, and in the summer of 2012 he was promoted to top assistant coach under new head coach Scott Heather. A native of nearby Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, Neitz was drafted in the 37th round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

Since taking over as Bucknell's pitching coach, Neitz has helped the Bison continue as one of the best pitching teams in the Patriot League by focusing on keeping the ball low and throwing strikes. In 2015, Neitz oversaw a staff that posted an impressive 3.37 ERA, the lowest for a Bucknell squad in nearly 40 years. That figure barely eclipsed the 2014 staff, which registered a 3.44 ERA. In Neitz's first three years as pitching coach, the Bison team ERA was lowered each season.

A 2002 graduate of Mifflinburg Area High School, Neitz played baseball for four years at East Carolina before graduating in the fall of 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. A left-handed pitcher, Neitz was 3-2 with an ERA of 4.71 in 80.1 career innings over 43 appearances with the Pirates. He recorded 55 strikeouts.

Neitz, who serves as Bucknell’s pitching coach, played professionally for four seasons, three in the Giants organization, and most recently one with the Washington Wild Things.

Neitz got his start in the coaching profession as an assistant at Mifflinburg Area High School in the spring of 2010.


CHRIS O'NEILL

Assistant Coach

NameChris O’Neill joined Head Coach Scott Heather’s coaching staff in August 2019.

The native of nearby Mifflinville joins the Bison coaching staff after a two-year stint at Marshall University. O’Neill will work primarily with the hitters as well as helping coach the infield unit. O’Neill helped guide the Thundering Herd to its first winning season since 2016, as well as help the team rank second in batting average in Conference USA play.

Before his stop at Marshall, O’Neill spent one season as an assistant at Maryland Eastern Shore. While at UMES, O’Neill helped the Hawks swipe 86 bases, the most since the 2010 season. The steals also ranked 23rd in Division I that year. The Hawks also qualified for the MEAC Tournament that same season.

Prior to his time in Princess Anne, Maryland, O’Neill served as the hitting coach/recruiting coordinator at Concordia University Ann Arbor. O’Neill helped the Cardinals improve in hits, runs scored, doubles, triples, RBI, and stolen bases in his first season, while improving once again in his second season. In 2017, the Cardinals posted the most wins in program history, as well as posting a team batting average of .275.

Additionally, O’Neill was the manager for the Grand Lake Mariners in the summer of 2016 and 2017. In his first season, he helped guide the Mariners to the most wins since 2009 while qualifying for the postseason. O’Neill followed up his successful managerial debut with a runner-up finish and 27 wins in 2017. The finals appearance was the first for the Mariners since 2006.

O’Neill began his coaching career at Tarboro High School in North Carolina in 2014.

O’Neill is married to the former Kaitlin Mangan and received his Bachelor’s degree in Education from King’s College in 2012.


CONNOR BECHTEL

Volunteer Assistant Coach

NameConnor Bechtel joined Head Coach Scott Heather’s coaching staff in August 2019.

Bechtel will work with the catchers as well as working with assistant coach Jason Neitz in the development of the Bison pitching staff.

Bechtel joins the Bucknell coaching staff after his most previous stop at Division III Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa. While at Arcadia, Bechtel was responsible for working with the catchers and assisting with the pitching staff. Under Bechtel’s tutelage, catcher Dylan Towey earned First Team All-MAC honors. Towey hit .338 and threw out eight runners from behind the plate. The 2019 Arcadia baseball team finished 25-17 on the season and made an appearance in the MAC Championship game, upsetting No. 1 seed Hood College in the elimination game.

Bechtel also has worked with strength and conditioning at Council Rock High School North in Newtown, Pa., where he helped lead the team to a Pennsylvania State Semi-final appearance in 2018.

Bechtel has also spent time as a head coach of the Newtown Senior Legion team from 2016-18. He has also served as the owner, instructor, and camp director of the Full Ride Baseball Academy in Trevose, Pa. since 2010. The Academy focuses on improving the skills of baseball players ages 6-18 that focuses on physical fitness as well as mental toughness and resiliency.


 

 



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