Kyle Crookes enters his sixth season as head coach of Mules Baseball in 2020 and his eighth season overall with the program after serving his first two seasons as the team’s top assistant.
He has compiled a 190-88 overall record during his first five seasons, including a 129-54 mark in MIAA play. He has led the Mules to two MIAA Regular Season, three, MIAA Tournament championships and two NCAA Central Region crown. In 2019, he had his most successful season to date, finishing third at the NCAA Division II National Championship.
The Mules had their highest finish in 2019, placing third at the NCAA Division II National Championship. The Mules were MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Champions, as well as NCAA Central Region Champions, defeating defending NCAA Champions Augustana 2-0 in the Super Regional in Sioux Falls. Erik Webb and Mason Janvrin supplied the offense on their way to All-American seasons. Webb was named the MIAA and Central Region Player of the Year as well as a First Team ABCA All-American. Janvrin earned Second Team ABCA All-American honors and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles with the first pick of the 14th round. Mason Green held down the pitching staff with All-MIAA Second Team and ABCA Second Team All-Region honors. Closer Jonathan Sprinkle was the Central Region relief pitcher of the year and an All-Region selection as well. In total, 11 Mules were named to the All-MIAA team and Janvrin was the Division II Elite 90 Award winner for baseball and the CoSIDA / Google Cloud Division II Baseball Academic All-American of the Year.
Central Missouri led the NCAA in a pair of statistical categories individually and as a team in 2019. The Mules 722 hits were the most in the country, as were their 62 double plays on defense. Erik Webb led the Nation with 199 total bases and 26 doubles. Mason Janvrin's 114 hits were the most in all of the NCAA, Divisions I, II and III and set a new team record for hits in a season. Janvrin and Webb were 1-2 in Division II in total hits for the season.
Crookes led the Mules back to the NCAA Regional in 2018 following his second MIAA Tournament Championship. The Mules went 39-17 for the season and finished third in the MIAA with a 23-13 conference mark. Central Missouri swept the MIAA Tournament going 4-0 and allowing just six runs in 35 innings, including senior Brandon Reid starting a combined no-hitter the eighth in team history. The Mules then went 2-2 in the NCAA Central Region Championship with wins over Oklahoma Baptist and St. Cloud State. Following the season, nine Mules were named All-MIAA and four were chosen as All-Americans. Seniors Travis Able and Collin Nevil and sophomores Mason Janvrin and Erik Webb all earned at least one All-American and All-Region award. Nevil and Janvrin also became the 18th and 19th Academic All-Americans in team history.
It was a banner year in 2016, as Crookes led the Mules back to the NCAA-II World Series for the first time since the 2011 season and the 17th time in program history. His Mules finished 43-15 overall, including a 32-7 mark in MIAA play as they won the MIAA Regular Season Championship by five games. It was the 25th conference title in program history. The Mules also captured the MIAA Tournament and Central Region Crowns, going 8-1 through those two tournaments. Ten Mules were named to the All-MIAA Team and Crookes was honored as the league’s Coach of the Year. Three players earned All-Region honors and first baseman Bennett Oliver set a new UCM and MIAA single-season record for home runs. Two of his players, Grant Gavin and Lucas Williams, were drafted in the Major League Baseball amateur draft and two more, Tyler House and Ethan Westphal, signed free agent contracts with MLB clubs. Crookes was also honored as the Central Region Coach of the Year.
Crookes followed the 2016 season by going 32-18 and finishing fourth with a 23-13 MIAA record in 2017. Ten Mules earned All-MIAA status with senior Travis Stroup and juniors Zach Girrens, Collin Nevil and Justin-Graff Rowe earning first time honors. Jackson Schnurbusch and Travis Able were also named to the inaugural MIAA Gold Glove team. Graff-Rowe was also an NCBWA All-American Honorable Mention.
In his first season at the helm, he led the Mules a 30-22 record and a third place finish in the MIAA regular season standings at 23-13. The Mules advanced to the semifinals of the MIAA Tournament. Ten players were named to the All-MIAA team, including Trevor Jones earning First Team honors, he went on to earn multiple All-Region honors as well.
As UCM’s top assistant in 2014, the Mule offense combined to hit .322, second best in the MIAA and 16th in NCAA Division II. The Mules ranked in the top 30 in the country averaging seven runs per game. The were in the top 50 in slugging percentage and one player was in the top 15 in runs scored.
In his first season as an assistant at UCM in 2013, the Mules’ offense was eighth in NCAA-II averaging over eight runs per game and they were in the top 20 in the nation in six offensive categories.
In his seven seasons at Central Missouri, Crookes has coached six All-Americans, 52 All-MIAA performers, 14 All-Region players and a Rawlings/ABCA Gold Glove award winner. Eight players have gone on to the affiliated professional ranks either through the Major League Baseball Draft or free agent signings.
Prior to coming to Warrensburg, Crookes spent the previous eight seasons as the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan.
He compiled a 292-164 overall record in eight seasons leading the Blue Dragons. His teams won or shared three Jayhawk West championships, won two Region VI crowns, and made two trips to the NJCAA World Series, including a third place finish at the 2010 World Series.
He is second on the career wins list at HCC and his .640 winning percentage ranks third among 10 HCC coaches and his 456 games coached are second all-time at the school.
During his tenure he coached four NJCAA All-Americans, 46 All-Conference players, 11 All-Region VI selections, a Jayhawk West MVP, Conference Freshman of the Year, and Region VI Defensive Player of the Year. Nine of his players were drafted and four players have reached the major leagues. Crookes will be inducted in to the Hutchinson Community College Hall of Fame in the spring of 2016.
Before taking over as the head man at Hutchinson Community College, Crookes served four seasons as an assistant coach for the Blue Dragons, helping the squad to a 159-70-1 record during that span.
He played collegiately, first at San Jose Junior College, and then at Centenary where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history in 1999.
Crookes and his wife, Delayna, have two children; a daughter, Kennedy and a son, Kannon.