Brian Grunzke | Assistant Coach
Brian Grunzke joined the South Dakota State baseball coaching staff in August 2012, bringing with him nearly 30 years of collegiate coaching experience.
During his time at SDSU, the Jackrabbits have won at least 28 games three of the past four seasons, including a 35-win campaign in 2013, during which SDSU won the Summit League Baseball Championship for the first time in program history and advanced to the NCAA Touranment for the first time at the Division I level. The Jackrabbits were the top seed for the Summit League postseason tournament in both 2013 and 2014.
Prior to joining the Jackrabbit coaching staff, Grunzke served as the first baseball coach at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He spent the 2009-10 academic year recruiting and building the foundation for the program’s entry into the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference. With a roster that included 20 freshmen, the Prairie Stars took the field for the first time in 2011 and posted an 8-35 overall record.
In 1990, Grunzke succeeded Schrage as head coach at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Over 16 seasons, Grunzke compiled a 388-344-1 record in leading the Warriors to eight appearances in the NJCAA Region 11 finals. His 1994 squad posted 23 consecutive victories en route to a 40-win season and a berth in the regional championship. Late in his tenure he guided the program from junior college status to a four-year institution.
Overall, Grunzke has coached nine All-Americans, 24 all-region selections and nine players who have pursued professional careers.
Following the 2006 campaign, Grunzke moved to the NCAA Division I level for the first time, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock for two seasons. He moved on to the University of Northern Iowa as assistant coach for the 2009 season, after which the Panther program was discontinued.
A native of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota, Grunzke earned an associate of arts degree from Waldorf and later completed his bachelor’s degree at UALR.
Mitch Mormann | Pitching Coach
South Dakota State University head baseball coach Rob Bishop announced Mitch Mormann as a new assistant coach on his staff in August 2016. He will work primarily with the team's pitchers.
Mormann arrived at SDSU from the University of North Dakota, where he helped mold left-handed pitcher Zach Muckenhirn into the program's highest ever Major League Baseball draft pick as Muckenhirn was selected in the 11th round by Baltimore Orioles in 2016. Muckenhirn led the Western Athletic Conference in strikeouts during the 2016 season and was a second-team all-Western Athletic Conference selection.
Mormann previously coached at Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats to the biggest turnaround in the NCAA by winning 36 games, winning a Mid-American Conference title and earning an NCAA Tournament berth. The 2015 Bobcats improved 25 games over their 11-win total the season prior. Ohio's 36 wins were the second-most in school history as the team appeared in its first NCAA Regional since 1997.
Under Mormann's tutelage, Bobcat closer Logan Cozart earned MAC Pitcher of the Year accolades and was later selected in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Colorado Rockies. Cozart was one of 10 finalists for the Gregg Olson Award, honoring college baseball's breakout player of the year.
In 2014, Mormann returned to Des Moines Area Community College and assisted Coach Kyle Hanna with pitching and a variety of other duties. ?A former player at DMACC, Mormann helped lead the Bears to a 40-18 overall record, including an ICCAC regular season championship. With Mormann contributing to player development, a total of nine DMACC players from the 2014 season went on to play baseball at the Division I level — four of which were pitchers.
In the summer of 2014, Mormann was hired as the pitching coach for the High Point-Thomasville HiToms of the Coastal Plains Collegiate League. Mormann led to HiToms pitching staff to the league's sixth-best earned run average (3.89). The HiToms were also top-five in several pitching categories including: opposing batting average (.250), strikeouts (413) and fewest walks allowed (184). The HiToms finished a strong season with a CPL West Division playoff appearance.
Mormann played under many successful coaches in his collegiate career. Some of those coaches include former Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson — the second-winningest NCAA Division I baseball coach of all time, LSU head coach Paul Mainieri and current Dallas Baptist assistant and recruiting coordinator Dan Fitzgerald.
Mormann pitched for DMACC Bears during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, when the team went an impressive 103-29. During those two seasons, DMACC won titles in ICCAC regular season, ICCAC Regional XI Tournament, and North Plains District Tournament, which qualified the Bears for the NJCAA Division II World Series. A two-time all-conference selection and a 2009 preseason All-America selection, Mormann set two single-season DMACC pitching records: the saves record with 12 in 2008 and the wins record the season after with 10. Additionally, in his time at DMACC, he was selected in the MLB Draft in the 17th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2008, and the 25th round by the San Francisco Giants in 2009. Mormann also played for the Falmouth Commodores in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
After DMACC, Mormann attended Louisiana State University. He was a member of the SEC Tournament championship and NCAA regional qualifying team . While pitching for the Tigers, Mormann assumed the setup role in the bullpen, where he had 19 appearances with a 3-0 record. Mormann then transferred to Wichita State University. In 2011, his redshirt year, Mormann was again drafted for the third time, this time by the Detroit Tigers, in the 25th round. He went into his senior year as a weekend starter. In 53 innings he went 3-3, posted a 3.97 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .237 batting average.
After his time at Wichita State, Mormann signed a free agent contract with the San Francisco Giants and then went on to play professional baseball for the Normal Cornbelters of the Frontier League.
Mormann received his bachelor's degree in sports management from Wichita State.
Danny Higginbotham | Volunteer Assistant Coach
Danny Higginbotham is entering his first season as the Volunteer Assistant. He will work primarily with the catchers and hitters. He will also assist with the coordination of camps.
Prior to SDSU, he was an Assistant Coach at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. At ICCC he worked with the catchers and hitters on a daily basis. During that season at ICCC, the Tritons went (38-16) and were Region 11 Champions. Before joining the ICCC staff, Higginbotham spent two years at Arkansas Tech University as the Graduate Assistant and Recruiting Coordinator.
Higginbotham spent his last two summers at the helm of the Martinsville Mustangs in the Coastal Plain League located in Martinsville, Virginia. In the 2017 season he led the Mustangs to a (14-13) first half record. This was the first winning record the Mustangs had seen in the first half of the season since 2007. In 2016, they finished just under .500 with a home record of 14-11 at Hooker Field. He spent the 2015 season as the Pitching Coach for the Morehead City Marlins located in Morehead City, North Carolina.
During his playing career, Higginbotham caught at Arkansas Tech University from 2009-2011 where he earned Gulf South Conference Academic Honors in each of his three seasons. During his three years at ATU, they compiled a record of 88-65 and earned bids to the Gulf South Conference Tournament in 2010 and 2011. Higginbotham started his college playing career at Howard College in Big Spring, TX in 2008. He also spent part of his summer in 2010 playing in Antwerp, Belgium for Team Nada SSM from Croatia in the European Baseball Championship.
Coach Higginbotham is originally from Bedford, Texas and graduated from Euless Trinity High School in 2007.