Clarke baseball coach Dan Spain

Clarke University was loyal to Dan Spain and he has been paying it back ever since. After serving as interim baseball coach for the Crusaders the final 12 games of the 2012 season Spain was named the new head coach and less than five years later has become the school’s all-time leader in wins. He picked up victory number 136 last week with an 11-5 win at Culver-Stockton.

“The loyalty and commitment that the University showed to me I will never lose that feeling”, said Spain. “I feel a responsibility to this school because they chose to hire a young guy that maybe wasn’t quite ready but I think they knew I was close.”

The program has soared since. Clarke is 24-5 and ranked 16th in the latest NAIA Poll. They are on pace to set a new school record for wins for the fourth time in five years. The Crusaders advanced to the opening round of the NAIA Tournament for thr first time last year and Spain hopes they become a regular in the tournament.

“Returning a lot of those guys is huge”, added Spain. “Having guys who have experienced that level of pressure and that level of competition has put us in a position where we just want to raise the bar again.”

Clarke hosts Peru State of Nebraska in a four-game Heart of America Athletic Conference series beginning Saturday.