Named the 16th head coach in the history of the Southeastern Louisiana baseball program at the age of 29, Matt Riser began his career as one of the youngest head coaches at the NCAA Division I level.
The Lions’ success under Riser has garnered national recognition for Southeastern, leading to the program’s first NCAA at-large bid (2016) and first preseason national ranking (2017).
With 120 wins over the course of his first three seasons, and back-to-back 40-win seasons, Riser’s overall winning percentage (.656) ranks as the fourth-highest in Southland history behind Jim Wells (.683), Houston Wheeler (.662) and David Pierce (.658).
Record-breaking performances have been achieved through an air of remarkable consistency, including record-setting attendance the past two seasons. An average of 1,071 fans passed through the gate of Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field in 2015, followed by 1,126 in 2016. Both figures led the Southland Conference.
In his nine total seasons at Southeastern, Riser has coached six All-Americans, seven Freshman All-Americans, two Academic All-Americans, the National Stopper of the Year, the nation’s leading hitter and seven Academic All-District players. Three have been named the Southland Conference Player of the Year, while two each have been named Southland Relief Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Seventeen players have been drafted, including 10 in the past three seasons.
Fresh off an at-large selection to the NCAA Regionals, Southeastern enters the 2017 season as the No. 36-ranked team in Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason Poll.
The Lions strung together a school-record 14 straight wins on their way to 40 wins, but the 2016 season will be remembered the most for Jameson Fisher’s remarkable hitting performance.
The redshirt junior battled back from an injury that cost him all of 2015 to lead the nation in batting average through the end of the regular season. Fisher’s average peaked at .521 in early April before entering NCAA Regional play at .437. His final .424 average was a school record and the second-highest in the nation.
A six-time All-American, an Academic All-American, the Southland Conference Player of the Year and the Louisiana Hitter of the Year, Fisher was also a semifinalist for the Dick Hoswer Trophy, Golden Spikes Award and Gregg Olson Award.
Reliever Kade Granier turned in an equally impressive regular season, allowing just one run and carrying a 0.28 ERA into the final conference series of the year. His performance earned him the title Southland Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year.
Shortstop Brennan Breaud also earned top billing as the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors.
Riser was named the 2015 Southland Conference Coach of the Year as the Lions set the school record for overall wins (42-17) and the Southland record for conference wins (25-5) on the way to claiming the conference's regular-season title.
Southeastern led the conference in 13 offensive categories during the 2015 season, including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, runs batted in, walks, hit by pitches, sac flies and stolen bases, all after losing the conference’s leading-returning hitter in Fisher to injury.
Sophomore outfielder Jacob Seward was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year after hitting .350, scoring 47 runs and stringing together a school-record 24-game hitting streak.
A league-high 11 players were named to the All-Conference squads and a program-record five players were named to the All-Louisiana teams.
The Lions had six conference hitters of the week (Ryan Byers, Kevin Carr, Carson Crites and Brett Hoffman while Seward won it twice). Tate Scioneaux was named the Southland's pitcher of the week three weeks running and earned state honors in back-to-back weeks.
Junior left-hander Kyle Cedotal was named a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Louisiana Pitcher of the Week after striking out a career-high 14 batters and flirting with a no-hitter against conference foe Abilene Christian (3/15/15).
Daniel Midyett and Cedotal both earned All-Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association, while Mac Sceroler was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.
In his inaugural season at the helm, Southeastern finished with a 38-25 record, winning the Southland Conference Tournament to advance to NCAA Regional play for the first time in 20 years and knocking off Bryant University, 2-1, for the school's first NCAA postseason victory since 1992. Along the way, the Lions produced the top hitter in the conference, arguably the top pitcher and the conference's newcomer of the year.
Fisher led the Southland with a .389 batting average, .481 on-base percentage and 93 hits. His 17 doubles fell one shy of the conference lead and he was fourth in runs scored (53). The sophomore from Zachary, Louisiana (Zachary H.S.), was equally impressive in Southland competition, posting a .396 batting average and .478 on-base percentage. Nationally, Fisher was 15th in batting average and 12th in hits.
Andro Čutura was the Southland Conference leader in a couple of statistical categories, compiling a 10-2 record and a 1.95 ERA. Čutura fanned 99 batters in 106 innings pitched, while limiting hitters to a .219 batting average, and issuing 21 walks. He tossed three complete games in his 16 starts. Čutura led the Southland in wins and strikeouts.
Andrew Godbold hit .349 with 10 doubles, nine home runs and a conference-leading 58 RBI. Named the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, Godbold was also a first team selection on the All-Louisiana squad and an ABCA All-Region selection. He finished 16th nationally in RBIs.
Coming on strong down the stretch, the 2014 Lions finished the season as the top hitting team in the Southland – compiling a conference-best .292 batting average, 356 runs scored, 616 hits, .385 on-base percentage, 101 HBPs, 32 sacrifice flies and 78 stolen bases.
Southeastern ranked among the best in the nation in batting average (35th), runs scored (34th), hits (20th), HBPs (9th), on-base percentage (17th), sac flies (23rd) and ERA (27th).
Under former coach Jay Artigues, Riser served as the Lions’ primary hitting coach while working extensively with the Southeastern outfielders. He also served as the third-base coach during games, and the program’s recruiting coordinator, among other duties during the past six seasons.
Under Riser’s guidance, the Lion offense produced the 2012 Southland Conference Player and Hitter of the Year Brock Hebert (.374, 58 runs, 21 doubles, 36 stolen bases). Senior Jonathan Pace hit .350, giving the Lions two of the top six hitters in the conference. The pair joined NCBWA National Stopper of the Year Stefan Lopez to give Southeastern three first-team All-Conference players.
The Lions led the Southland in five offensive categories in their record-breaking 2010 season and had five All-Conference Players, including 12th-round draft pick Chris Franklin. Riser also coached Southeastern’s career-hits leader Cass Hargis and previous record holder Ty Summerlin. After his senior season, Summerlin was drafted in the 30th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Riser, a Picayune, Miss., native, began his coaching career after completing his collegiate career at Tulane, where he played in 2005-06. Prior to his time in New Orleans, Riser played under Artigues, the former Southeastern head coach and current director of athletics, for two seasons at Pearl River Community College.
With the Green Wave, Riser played in 108 games over the course of two seasons. As a senior, he played in all 64 games and made 57 starts, finishing the season with three home runs, 37 RBI and 16 doubles, helping Tulane to a NCAA Regional Final Appearance. In 2005, Riser played a vital role in helping Tulane to the 2005 College World Series, playing in 44 games as a junior.
At PRCC, Riser earned All-Region XXII honors and Region XXII Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, helping PRCC to the state title. He batted .376 as a sophomore and .347 as a freshman, compiling 110 hits, 30 doubles and 109 runs scored in his two-year junior college career. The Mississippi native prepped at Picayune Memorial High and was an All-State selection as a senior.
Riser earned his degree in biomedical engineering from Tulane University in 2007. He, wife, Jeanette, and son, Xander, reside in Hammond.