Written by Spencer Aiello // Photo by McKenna Oliver
The Harding baseball team beat Southern Nazarene University in a 11-5 victory Friday, Feb. 19, giving head coach Patrick McGaha his 600th collegiate win in his career as a coach. Since then, the Bisons have added three more wins to his record.
McGaha’s coaching career began in 1993, when he coached at Central Arkansas Christian Schools in North Little Rock, Arkansas, where he won two state championships in 1994 and 1995. He would continue to coach there until 1997 before moving on to coach at Pepperdine University and then later at the College of the Ozarks in 2002.
At the end of his first four seasons in the Ozarks, he helped the Bobcats finish with a school-record 37 wins, a championship and a berth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament, all of which were a first for the College of the Ozarks.
At the end of his time with the College of the Ozarks, McGaha compiled a 119-96-1 record. He also achieved consecutive 30-win seasons for the second time in school history.
His first season at Harding came in 2006, when his team held a 21-28 overall record and a 6-17 conference record, finishing eighth in conference standings. The next year his squad finished fifth with a 34-22 overall record and an 8-13 conference record, which tied the 34-win season school record.
Since then, McGaha won the Gulf South Conference (GSC) tournament in 2009 and the GSC coach of the year award in 2011.
McGaha completed the best season in program history in 2011, ending it with a program record of 42-14 and obtaining their first Gulf South Conference West Division title and their first conference championship in baseball since 1984. They finished 24th nationally.
In 2019, McGaha achieved his 500th collegiate win, which came a year after he cemented himself as the winningest coach in program history.
As of today, McGaha is in his 18th season as head coach at Harding. He holds a 472-374 record in his first 17 seasons and has coached more games (846) and has won more games (472) than any other Harding coach.
McGaha is currently the longest-tenured coach in the Great American Conference and ranks in the top 50 in collegiate career victories in the NCAA Division II nationally.
McGaha said what has kept him going up to this point has been his players and assistant coaches.
“That’s really what it’s all about,” McGaha said. “They’ve been a huge motivation to continue to coach, and I’ve been really blessed to have great assistants.”
McGaha explained how important it is to see his players develop and succeed.
“It’s always very special to see the guys have success,” McGaha said. “We’ve been blessed with some pretty good talent.”
Junior Maddox Long reflected on what the 600th win meant to him as a player and his relationship with McGaha.
“It was more or less like a respect thing, realizing how important it is to be playing for him and knowing the success he’s had,” Long said.
Long also talked about what it meant to play under McGaha and what effect he has on his players.
“[It] makes you feel honored to get to play for a coach that’s as successful,” Long said.
Junior outfielder Sawyer Price expressed his thoughts on what the big win meant for the rest of the team.
“I think that definitely the 600 is a motivator,” Price said. “Most of us want to get to that next milestone 700 while we’re all still here.”