Despite suffering consecutive losing seasons for the first time in program history, the Arizona State Sun Devils have decided to retain baseball coach Tracy Smith -- but the university expects to see improvement from the program going forward, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson announced Tuesday.
"Our pitching has to improve significantly. Our defense needs to improve significantly," Anderson said. "2019, very frankly, is a very important year for us, and we expect to see significant improvement in those areas."
The Sun Devils finished second in the Pac-12 in batting average and fourth in home runs in 2018. Junior outfielder Gage Canning batted .369 with 37 extra base hits, and freshman Spencer Torkelson shattered Barry Bonds' team freshman home run record. But ASU's pitching and fielding ranked among the worst in the conference.
The 52-year-old Smith was hired at ASU after leading Indiana to back-to-back Big Ten Conference championships in 2013 and '14 and guiding the Hoosiers to a 2013 College World series appearance. Under Smith, ASU finished tied for third place in the Pac-12 in 2015 and '16 and advanced to Regionals in both seasons. But the Sun Devils finished tied for last in the Pac-12 in 2017 and seventh place in 2018.
ASU has gone 117-107 overall and 55-62 in the Pac-12 during Smith's four seasons at the helm.