Villanova head coach Joe Godri wins 300th career game in opener of three-game series
Villanova hosts Huskies in three-game series at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth
Harris pitches eight-plus innings and Villanova notches first-ever win at Notre Dame
Big Red return to Plymouth Meeting for first time since 2011
Head coach Joe Godri discusses the team's recent games, previews second home tournament
Villanova recognized its graduating seniors prior to its home game against Louisville on May 4, 2013.
Villanova defeated La Salle, 5-3, on March 26 in a game that was part of the Liberty Bell Classic.
Villanova defeated Chicago State, 8-2, on March 15, 2013.
Over the past 11 years since becoming the head coach of the Villanova baseball program, Joe Godri has built a team that is consistently among the best in the Northeast region. He owns a career record of 288-286-3 (.502) and has led the Wildcats to an average of more than 26 victories per season. In addition, the team has posted a record of .500 or better eight times in his 11 years as head coach and won 30 or more games twice.
Villanova comes off a successful 2012 campaign in which the team won 28 games while showcasing a roster that improved across the board over the course of one year. Last season the Wildcats team batting average (.289), ERA (4.89) and fielding percentage (.968) were all better than in 2011 and the team got off to a quick start by winning 12 of its first 18 games.
Three players started all 55 games for Villanova last season and all batted .320 or higher. The leader of the group, infielder Tyler Sciacca, was a second team All-BIG EAST selection and returns to the Wildcats as a highly-touted pro prospect this season. He also garnered Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year and second team All-East honors last season. The other two position players to start every game last season - outfielder Matt Fleishman and infielder Kevin Wager - were each playing professional baseball by the end of the season. Fleishman was a first team All-BIG EAST pick and signed to play for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League, while Wager was picked up by the Las Cruces Vaqueros in the Pecos League.
In addition to Fleishman and Wager playing pro ball Villanova also had pitcher Kyle Helisek picked by the St. Louis Cardinals in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Helisek went on to have a successful start to his pro career and his selection in the draft marked the 10th time in 11 years of Godri's tenure that the Wildcats had at least one pitcher chosen. Overall there have been 20 draft picks from Villanova since Godri became head coach.
During his time on the Main Line, Godri has emphasized the importance of growing a collegiate baseball program through incremental team achievements that build up to an ultimate goal, which in the Wildcats case means having success in the highly competitive BIG EAST Conference. Villanova has fulfilled all of the above and stands in position to be a perennial contender in the postseason conference championship.
In 2008, the Wildcats made an impressive run late in the regular season to assure themselves of being one of just five teams from the 2007 BIG EAST Championship that would return the following year. Villanova won seven of its last 10 regular season conference games and clinched a playoff berth against regular season champion St. John's at home on the final day of the regular season.
In the conference tournament, Villanova knocked off the top-seeded Red Storm, 12-0, in the opening game. The No. 8 seed Wildcats went on to reach the semifinals before being eliminated by eventual champion Louisville. During the season, shortstop Derek Shunk broke the program's career records for hits, games played and at-bats en route to finishing his career ranked in the top-10 in school history in eight different offensive categories.
Many of the achievements of the 2008 team mirrored those of the 2007 squad, which ended the program's 10-year drought from postseason competition. The Wildcats also clinched their playoff berth in 2007 with a come-from-behind win over the league's regular season champion (Rutgers) during the final weekend of the regular season after making a significant run in the final weeks of the year just to be in position to contend for a playoff spot. In the 2007 BIG EAST Championship, Villanova showed that it belonged, knocking out five-time defending champion Notre Dame in an elimination game on the second day. A day earlier, the Wildcats had taken eventual College World Series qualifier Louisville to the wire in their opening game.
Throughout his coaching career, Godri has demonstrated the ability to develop individual players into top professional prospects within the context of successful team performances. In 2009, Kevin Mulvey made his major league debut pitching for the Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks. A former top draft pick of the New York Mets in 2006, Mulvey is the second former Villanova player coached by Godri to reach the major leagues. Brian Slocum pitched for the Cleveland Indians in 2006 and 2008.
Villanova had nine former players active in the professional ranks during the 2012 season, including six pitcher and three position players. Outfielder Matt Szczur began his second full season playing in the Chicago Cubs organization and is considered to be among the team's top Major League prospects. Also playing pro ball in 2012 were Jordan Ellis, Matt Fleishman, Kyle Helisek, Mike Loree, Kyle McMyne, Kevin Mulvey, Brian Streilein and Kevin Wager.
The Wildcats have had at least one player drafted in 10 of Godri's 11 years as head coach, including at least one pitcher in each of those nine seasons. Two players were selected in the 2011 draft, giving Villanova multiple draft picks for the eighth time in 10 years. Pitcher Kyle McMyne was a fourth round selection of the Cincinnati Reds as the Wildcats had a player chosen in the top five rounds of the draft for the second straight year.
Villanova alumni have also gone on to have success playing internationally. After enjoying a stellar senior season in 2005, Mark Cardillo went on to play professionally in Italy. He returned there in 2006 and was joined by former Wildcat teammate Angelo Petracca. Bob Grzenda and John Yeager also played for Godri at Villanova before going on to have success playing in leagues in Germany and Mexico, respectively.
Godri's success at Villanova has gained the notice of his peers and during the summer of 2006 he was named to the USA Baseball selection committee that chose the players for the collegiate National Team.
Villanova has developed into one of the top baseball powers in the region under Godri's watch. Over the past nine seasons (2004-12), the Wildcats have gone 161-78-2 (.672) against non-conference competition and posted a record of 110-50-1 (.686) against opponents from the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The team's success on the field has been duly rewarded. In the past seven seasons, the Wildcats have had 21 selections on the Philadelphia Big Five Baseball All-Big Five team, including winning at least one of the Player of the Year or Pitcher of the Year awards six times in seven seasons. The 2008 team was named the city's Team of the Year and Godri earned Coach of the Year honors. In addition, Villanova has earned 19 All-BIG EAST honors during Godri's tenure and three players have earned All-America status. Derek Shunk was a three-time All-BIG EAST selection and in 2007 was chosen as the District I Player of the Year and a third team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. More recently, Matt Szczur (2010) and Matt Fleishman (2012) became the first players under Godri's watch to be first team All-BIG EAST choices, while Szczur also went on to receive third team All-America recognition from the website Ping!Baseball.com.
Several highlights of Godri's early tenure as head coach came during the 2005 campaign, when the Wildcats achieved many of the goals that he laid out upon his arrival. In only their seventh game of the season, Villanova erupted for 15 hits in an 11-1 rout of the nation's eighth-ranked Florida Gators. Florida was playing its 12th game of the season and eventually reached the final series of the College World Series that spring.
Also in 2005, starting pitchers Nick Allen and Kevin Mulvey threw no-hitters exactly one month apart. They were the seventh and eighth no-hitters in school history and the first in more than 40 years. Both pitchers were named as National Players of the Week for their achievements, making them the first Villanova players to earn national honors in Godri's tenure.
In the season prior to being named the head coach, Godri served as the associate head coach in 2001 during the final season of George Bennett's 16-year stay on campus. In this position, Godri had the unique opportunity to recruit the first class that would play for him in 2002. That first recruiting class included eventual Villanova stars Nick Allen, James Baxter, Mark Cardillo, Alan Day and Mike Grodecki. Godri's recruiting classes since then have been on par, as Villanova recruits have been ranked among the top 100 classes in the country in seven of the last 10 seasons by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Godri was named the 10th head coach in the illustrious history of Villanova baseball on May 8, 2001. He took over the reigns from all-time program wins leader George Bennett, a 16-year veteran of the program and a member of the Villanova Varsity Club Hall of Fame. Godri's stint as head coach is actually his second with the Wildcats. He previously came to the Main Line in 1991 and served as the hitting coach for three seasons before returning in 2000 as an assistant coach.
During his first stay at Villanova, Godri coached All-American players Mike Neill and Gene Schall. Both went on to play in the major leagues, while Neill won a gold medal playing for the United States in the 2000 Olympic Games. Godri helped lead the Wildcats to the 1991 NCAA Northeast Regional, the team's second NCAA appearance in three seasons.
Following his first three years at Villanova, Godri was the head assistant coach at New Mexico State from 1994-97. While coaching at New Mexico State, two of his three recruiting classes were ranked in the top 40 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. In addition, the Aggies were ranked in the top 25 for the first time in school history.
With his focus on hitting as a New Mexico State assistant, Godri helped the Aggies crack the top five in several NCAA offensive categories including hitting, runs scored, stolen bases and home runs. He also coached another future major leaguer in Jason Rackers, who would go on to play for the Kansas City Royals. While with the Aggies, Godri coached under current North Carolina State head coach Elliott Avent who was named National Coach of the Year in 2003.
After three seasons at New Mexico State, Godri spent one season as an associate scout for the Cleveland Indians. He then traveled to the University of Utah where he assisted with the pitching staff for two seasons.
Godri played his collegiate baseball at Colorado State and Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. After finishing his degree as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh with his Bachelor's Degree in Education, Godri went on to receive a Master's Degree in Marketing and Management from New Mexico State.
Godri and his wife, Michelle, reside in Linfield, Pa.