Jeff Forehand begins his 14th season as the Lipscomb University baseball head coach in 2019.
After being named the 15th coach in the history of the storied Lipscomb program in 2007, Forehand has racked up over 500 collegiate wins and sits as the winningest skipper in the program’s NCAA era with a 328-361 record.
His overall record as a collegiate head coach is 539-503-1 in 18 seasons. He earned his 500th career win on March 24, 2017 with a 4-1 decision over Evansville – which also happened to be the same team he recorded his first career win as skipper of the Bisons on Feb. 11, 2007.
During his tenure, Forehand has led the Bisons to two ASUN Championships and the only two NCAA Tournament appearances in program history in 2008 and 2015.
He has mentored 28 All-ASUN selections, including nine First Team All-Conference selections, 18 Freshman All-ASUN selections, two ASUN Defensive Players of the Year, two ASUN Tournament MVPs, two ASUN Scholar Athletes of the Year, one ASUN Pitcher of the Year and one ASUN Freshman of the Year.
In addition, Forehand has coached one All-American, three Freshman All-Americans, one All-South Region honoree and the program’s first-ever ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove recipient in 2017 – one of only nine to be honored in Division I.
Having players drafted is nothing new for Forehand as 12 of his student-athletes have received the call on draft day – including a program record three in 2017. There have been 30 total draftees in Lipscomb’s history.
Casey Bond, who played in the Hollywood feature film Moneyball and John King got the trend started in Forehand’s first season in 2007 as both were selected by the San Francisco Giants. A right-handed pitcher, King was a 17th-round selection, while Bond got the call in the 25th round. Also among the Lipscomb standouts who have been drafted under Forehand are catcher Caleb Joesph, who was drafted in the 7th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2008, and righty hurler Josh Smith, who was chosen by the Cincinnati Reds in the 21st round in 2010.
Highlighting the draftees under Forehand’s direction was the 2017 class. Centerfielder Michael Gigliotti was a 4th round pick by the Kansas City Royals, right-handed hurler Brady Puckett was taken in the 15th round by the Miami Marlins and Jeffrey Passantino heard his named called as the last selection of the draft by the defending champion Chicago Cubs in the 40th round.
It marked the first time in program history that the Bisons had multiple players chosen in the first 15 rounds of the draft.
Prior to his arrival, Lipscomb had not posted a winning season since joining Division I as a full member in 2004.
After finishing just two games shy of .500 in his first season (28-30) in 2007, the Bisons posted a 33-30 overall mark and won a program-record 19 conference games en route to the team’s first-ever ASUN title and NCAA postseason berth in 2008.
A major underdog, Lipscomb traveled to Athens, Georgia, taking out host Georgia in the opening round of the NCAA Tourney before falling to Georgia Tech in round two. That setup a rematch with the Bulldogs and Georgia prevailed in round two ending the Bisons first NCAA Regional.
Forehand’s 2009 club came within one win of back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament falling in the A-Sun championship game. That season would see another milestone for Forehand’s program as pitcher Rex Brothers would become the second Lipscomb player drafted in the top round of the Major League Baseball draft. Taken as the 34th overall pick in the draft by the Colorado Rockies, the hard-throwing lefty made a quick rise to the majors making his MLB debut June 6th, 2011 with a 96 mph fastball against the San Diego Padres.
With the departure of a number of key contributors to graduation and the MLB Draft, Forehand and the Bisons went the next five seasons without ever winning more than 25 games or anything better than a 4th-place finish in the ASUN.
2009: (24-32, 17-13 ASUN)
2010: (19-36, 9-17 ASUN)
2011: (19-36, 10-20 ASUN)
2012: (25-30, 14-13 ASUN)
2013: (25-34, 13-14 ASUN)
Those results didn’t stop Forehand and his staff from making headlines on the recruiting trail. Forehand’s 2015 signing class was the highest-ranked class in program history, according to Perfect Game’s rankings. Lipscomb finished with the 56th-best class, trailing only Vanderbilt (1st) and Tennessee (42nd) inside the state lines.
In 2014 Lipscomb got off to a slow 2-8 start before heating up in a hurry. The Bisons stung together a NCAA-era best 10-game win streak and won 14 of their next 15 games to put together a 33-28 overall record – tying the then record for wins in a season in the NCAA era.
The team rolled into the ASUN Championship as the No. 4 seed, but after knocking off top seed and host FGCU twice, Lipscomb won its way into the championship series with Kennesaw State.
Offense was hard to come by against the Owls as the team stranded 12 runners on base in a 7-1 loss. KSU parlayed that win into a Super Regional berth.
In 2015, Forehand pioneered the best season in the program’s NCAA era winning a school record 39 games. It was the first time the Bisons had won at least 30 games in back-to-back seasons in Division I era.
Closing the season as road warriors with 15-straight wins on the road, the Bisons clinched the No. 2 seed as the traveled to Fort Myers, Florida for the ASUN Championship.
Great pitching and timely hitting powered Lipscomb’s 4-0 record in the championship with back-to-back victories over top-seeded North Florida – who possessed one of the most potent offenses in the country.
In the title game, Forehand made one of the best moves of his career going to freshman Allan Hooker off the bench as a pinch hitter. After going down three runs after three innings, Hooker blasted a go-ahead 3-run bomb in the top of the fourth to give Lipscomb a 5-3 lead and it never looked back en route to a dog pile at the mound when the final out was made.
The Bisons didn’t have to travel far as the committee sent them down the road to the Vanderbilt Regional. Earlier in the season on April 7 in a midweek at Hawkins Field, Lipscomb earned a 3-1 victory over then-No. 1 Vandy behind a 7.1-inning gem from freshman Brady Puckett – it was the fewest runs for the Dores in 29 games.
The NCAA Tournament matchup was a different story however, facing a MLB first rounder in Carson Fulmer. Vandy rode the hard-throwing righty to a 9-1 win in front of more than 3,600 fans in attendance. The very next day, the Bisons’ season came to an end with a 5-2 loss to No. 2 Radford.
In 2016, the Bisons put together a third straight 30-win season after finishing 31-27 overall and 12-9 in the ASUN for a fourth place finish.
Puckett – as a sophomore – was voted unanimously the ASUN’s Pitcher of the Year and earned a Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American nod. He tossed his way to a 9-2 record and a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts. He led the league in wins, strikeouts (101), innings pitched (107.2) and ASUN Pitcher of the Week awards (4).
Lipscomb hosted the ASUN Tournament and downed Jacksonville 10-8 in the first round, but eventually dropped games against North Florida and FGCU to end the year.
Forehand entered the 2017 with arguably the most talented roster in program history and one that was thought to be the best in the ASUN. The head coaches around the league voted Lipscomb the ASUN preseason favorite for the first time in program history. The team didn’t quite live up to that billing as it came down to the last game of the regular season for the Bisons to clinch the No. 6 seed.
After falling to Jacksonville in the first round, the Bisons upended host and No. 2 seed Stetson, 8-6. They then fell to FGCU the next day to end the season.
With a new roster that saw 10 players leave due to graduation and the MLB Draft, Lipscomb took its growing pains in stride in 2018, finishing 24-30. The marquee win came on March 27 at First Tennessee Park where the Bisons took down No. 8 Vanderbilt, 5-1, while holding them to just one hit.
In June, Forehand had his 12th player selected in the draft when the San Diego Padres called the name of second baseman Lee Solomon.
Prior to taking over the Lipscomb program in 07, Forehand had a highly successful stint across town at Trevecca Nazarene where he led the Trojans to a 211-142-1 in six seasons. At Trevecca, Forehand earned 2004 NAIA Region XI Coach of the year and was twice named TransSouth Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2005. The Trojans also excelled in the classroom as the team grade point average increased a half a point in his tenure.
While at Trevecca, Forehand saw three players have their names called on draft day as Mario Campos (Red Sox, 2001), B.J. Jenkins (San Diego Padres,2004) and Brad Coon (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 2005) each were selected.
Before taking over the Trojan’s program, Forehand got his head-coaching start at Nashville’s Goodpasture Christian School where in seven seasons he won three state titles (1995, 1997, 1999). He is also a three-time Tennessee State Coach of the Year honoree winning the award each of those three years. Prior to taking over the Goodpasture program, Forehand served as an assistant coach from 1990-92 under his father, Fred, at Montgomery Bell Academy.
A native of the “Music City”, the former second baseman played college ball at nearby Belmont under coach Dave Whitten graduating in 1989. Forehand also holds a Masters of Education degree from Tennessee State.
A lifelong resident of the city of Nashville, Forehand and his wife, Karen, have two sons, Gant and Brooks.