Rick Hitt began his 21st year at SFSC in August and ushers in his 20th team in January as the 2019 baseball season gets underway. During his overall 31 years in coach, Hitt has had the great fortune of coaching many talented players and outstanding young men.
Hitt’s expectations of the players are simple: “Dedicate yourself to being an outstanding young man and representative of SFSC daily, commit to academic accountability and graduation, and play the greatest game in the world as hard as you can play it each day you get the chance. The growth that occurs within this process has the opportunity to stay with you as you venture on in life.”
Hitt and wife Jayma recently celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary together. They have two daughters, both SFSC graduates: Sydney and Cassady.
As a pitcher at Santa Fe Community College, Hitt helped the Saints to a third place finish in the 1985 NJCAA Word Series playing for NJCAA and ABCA Hall of fame coach Harry Tholen. Hitt completed his baseball playing career at St. Thomas University where he played for current LSU and 2014 ABCA Hall of Fame inductee Paul Mainieri.
“I was blessed to have played for two highly respected coaches and outstanding people during my collegiate career,” Hitt said. “It is not often one can say they played for two coaches who are Hall of Famers. I am very grateful for the opportunity they provided me.”
Hitt is in his second full term as the NJCAA Coaches Association President and in his 14th year as a member of the FCSAA State Baseball Committee. He just completed his third year as a member of the prestigious ABCA Board of Directors and serves on the ABCA Executive Committee. Hitt is also a member of the Standing Committee of the ABCA.
In November 2016, Hitt was inducted into the FCSAA Hall of fame. In June 2017 at the ABCA National meetings in Omaha, Hitt was selected as the incoming fourth vice president of the ABCA, an extremely prestigious honor as Hitt becomes only the third NJCAA coach in the two-year system to be selected to join the ABCA presidency.
When not at the ballpark, Hitt enjoys simply being at home spending time with his family, the occasional round of golf, and morning walks with the family dog Willy.
Hitt and his players look forward to the ride in 2019. “It is a great game, and one of the reasons why is the enjoyment of taking the ride with a great group of people around you,” Hitt said. “My hope is our players will embrace that and enjoy the opportunities this season presents.”
Assistant Baseball Coach
In 2019, Matt Schaeffer embarks on his second season as assistant baseball coach at South Florida State College, where he looks to provide insight and instruction to pitchers and catchers and to contribute to the Panthers’ recruiting efforts.
Schaeffer’s prior experience in the Florida Junior College system comes as a player, when he pitched for Tallahassee Community College after transferring from Florida A&M University. At TCC, Schaeffer led the Eagles pitching staff in wins, saves, and appearances, including three decisions against Northwest Florida State College who went on to win the NJCAA World Series.
After his sophomore campaign, Schaeffer transferred to Appalachian State University, where he completed his career. In his two years for the Mountaineers, Schaeffer complied notable appearances against some of the nation’s top competition including then-defending NCAA National Champion University of Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, South Alabama, Wake Forest and then-defending National Champion Coastal Carolina.
As a student, he accumulated numerous academic awards, including the NJCAA’s Academic Student-Athlete Award and appeared on the Dean’s List and the President’s List. Schaeffer earned a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in leadership studies from Appalachian State University.
Immediately following his playing career, Schaeffer became the pitching coach for the Delray Beach Lightning of the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League, a summer collegiate league. Schaeffer helped lead the pitching staff to top-honors across the league, which included a 25-14 record and first place in the North division, two league-leaders in saves, the second most shutouts amongst the league, and five pitchers named to the SFCBL All-Star team. This culminated in a shot at the league title in the SFCBL Championship Series