Shane Gierke enters his fourth season as assistant coach for the Troy baseball program. Gierke joined the Trojans after 12 seasons as an assistant at the University of West Florida.
Since joining the Troy coaching staff in 2016, Gierke has brought in talented players like 2018 fifth round draft pick Brandon Lockridge and the Sun Belt’s career ERA leader Andrew Crane. The 2018 signing class was ranked in the top 100 nationally and the second best in the conference.
Under Gierke’s watch, the Trojans experienced an offensive explosion in 2018 -- setting multiple school records en route to the school’s first NCAA Regional appearance in five years. Offensively, the 2018 team ranks first all-time in triples and games played, while ranking in the top three in walks, hit-by-pitch, sac flies and stolen bases -- led by All-Americans Joey Denison and Rigsby Mosley.
In 2017, the Trojans finished near the top of the conference in several batting statistical categories. Troy had the second-fewest strikeouts of any team in the league, ranked third in sacrifice flies and fourth in doubles. The 2017 team was also the first Troy team since 2006 to not be shut out in a single game all season.
For eight years, Gierke served as the recruiting coordinator for the University of West Florida and has oversaw catcher development and hitting instruction. Gierke worked two seasons as an assistant under former head coach Jim Spooner starting in 2004, and he coached his 10th year as assistant head coach under Mike Jeffcoat in 2015.
Relationships he developed throughout the southeast while at UWF will be instrumental in recruiting student-athletes that will keep the Trojans at the top of the Sun Belt Conference. Gierke’s recruiting efforts at UWF were highlighted by several major league prospects. Gierke recruited all 11 Argonauts that have been drafted by major league teams, including five players in 2011 after the team’s national championship season.
In 2011, the Argonauts won the NCAA Division II national championship and set school records in runs (449), hits (638) and walks (267). As a team, UWF batted .326 and averaged 7.4 runs per game, led by All-Americans Greg Pron and Brandon Brewer.
The Argonauts also hit .306 in 2009 and .315 in 2010, two of the top offensive seasons in school history. In eight seasons with Gierke as hitting coach, the team has batted at least .290 every year except one, produced 36 All-GSC position players and advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times.
Gierke played two seasons for the Argonauts from 2000-02. Shane is a native of Apopka, Fla., and he is the son of Carolyn and Chip Gierke. His father has been a high school baseball and football coach in the Central Florida area for over 30 years. His brother Casey, a former player and assistant coach at UWF, is currently coaching high school baseball in Central Florida. Shane’s brother Brad was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1996 and later went on to play football at Appalachian State.
Gierke is married to the former Veronica Slover and has a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Shelby.
Matt Hancock enters his first season with the Troy baseball program as the pitching coach after 10 seasons in the same role at the University of North Alabama.
“I’m extremely honored, humbled and thankful for the opportunity to join a tradition-rich program,” Hancock said. “I’m excited to team up with Coach Smartt and the rest of the staff as we aim to continue success and take the next step as a program.”
“Matt comes highly recommended from baseball people I have known and trusted for many years,” Smartt said. “He impressed me with his overall presence, while his strong character fit our staff and program extremely well. He presented an outstanding development plan and I am confident he will provide the proper direction for our pitching staff each day.”
UNA experienced immense success with Hancock on staff – he helped lead the program to a 308-201-1 record and back-to-back NCAA South Region Tournament berths in 2011 and 2012. At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Hancock was named the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year.
The program also set multiple school records, including the single-season records for shutouts (9) and strikeouts (422) in 2018. Hancock also helped guide the Gulf South Conference's first ever back-to-back Pitcher of the Year award-winner in Tyler Joyner, who was drafted in the 30th round of the MLB First Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
As the program’s recruiting coordinator, he recruited and developed 42 all-conference players (15 of those pitchers) and 16 all-region players, including NCBWA South Region Pitcher of the Year and All-American Chad Boughner – UNA’s all-time wins (31) and strikeouts (280) leader.
Boughner was one of three 20-win pitchers Hancock developed, as Trey Mitchell and Riley Sanderson eclipsed the threshold in their careers, as well. In 2015, the Hancock-led UNA pitching staff set the school record with only 98 walks allowed all season.
In the midst of his time at UNA, he worked as the coach of the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods Summer League. In just three years, the squad had over 30 players selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft – four of whom have reached the majors.
Hancock lettered four years as a pitcher at North Alabama and helped lead the Lions to two regular season Gulf South Conference championships. He ranks third on the school’s all-time wins list with a 20-5 career record and was named to the GSC All-Tournament team in 2005.
He received his bachelor’s degree in history and a Master of Health and Physical Education from UNA, as well. After one year as a student assistant coach and two years as a graduate assistant at North Alabama, Hancock was promoted to the assistant’s position with the Lions for the following decade.
Hancock is married to former UNA soccer star Emily Cotham; the two have a daughter, Hallie, and son, Bryce.
Volunteer Assistant Coach
Peyton Fuller begins his second season as assistant coach for the Troy baseball program. Fuller was hired on January 4, 2017.
“It was an easy decision to move Peyton into this role,” Smartt said. “He has intimate familiarity with our program and has been around the game his whole life. His father, Stu, is a great coach and growing up as a coach’s son gives him a unique understanding of the profession. Peyton possesses the qualities to be an outstanding coach and I know he is committed to our system and beliefs here at Troy.”
The Fairhope, Ala., native, began his career with Troy in 2012, when he redshirted and completed his playing career in 2016. Fuller was a member of the 2013 Troy team that went 42-20, won a Sun Belt championship and earned a spot in the NCAA Regionals. He played in 119 games and started 71 over the course of his career. He tallied 66 hits, including 14 doubles and four home runs. He drove in 42 runs and stole 10 bases. Defensively, Fuller saw time at third base, shortstop and second base during his playing career, where he had 97 putouts and 217 assists. Early in his career he spent time as a pitcher and even worked some as an outfielder.
His responsibilities include coaching first base and coordinating the defense. “His versatility as a player was obvious and it will be an advantage for him as he begins coaching. He has learned from quality coaches and will be able to communicate well with any area on the field,” Smartt added.
“I love Troy University and I am fortunate to begin my coaching career in the program that means so much to me,” Fuller said. “Coach Smartt recruited me out of high school and I was glad to be a player during his first season as head coach. I appreciate him continuing to show confidence in me by giving me this opportunity.”
Fuller earned his bachelor’s degree from Troy University in 2015 and will complete his master’s degree this summer.
Director of Baseball Operations
John Rushing begins his seventh season as the Trojans director of operations. Rushing joined the Troy staff from Tuscaloosa Academy, where he served as baseball head coach and athletic director from 2006-11.
During his time at Tuscaloosa Academy, Rushing’s squads won the area championship twice and advanced to the AISA playoffs five times. Rushing was an assistant coach at Bevill State Community College from 2001-04. During his tenure, Bevill State won a pair of ACCC State Championships in 2001 and 2003.
From 2000 to the summer of 2011, Rushing was the head coach of Tuscaloosa Post 34’s Senior American Legion Team. During his tenure, Rushing led Post 34 to the American Legion State Championship Game nine out of his 12 seasons. Post 34 won the state championship in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2013, Rushing restarted the Troy Post 70 baseball program consisting of players ages 13-19 in the Troy area. In 2014, Post 70 finished as the state runner-up in only their second season since their return to American Legion baseball. In 2016, Post 70 won the Alabama state championship and advanced to the Southeast Regional in Asheboro, N.C. -- it marked the first time Troy has won the Senior American Legion Baseball State Championship.
As the head coach of Post 34, Rushing coached Chicago White Sox and former New York Yankees and Alabama pitcher David Robertson. Over 40 former players that Rushing coached at Post 34 in Tuscaloosa are currently playing or have played Division I or professional baseball.