Tarleton State University head baseball coach and Stephenville High School graduate Bryan Conger has tweeted he has accepted a coaching position with the Texas Rangers’ organization.
No details about his new job were made available. Conger wrote he and his family, “Would like to thank the Stephenville and Tarleton communities for their support and generosity over the years. We are excited to begin this new chapter together
To say that Conger has elevated the Tarleton baseball program to an elite level, not just within the Lone Star Conference but also throughout the nation, would be an understatement.
Conger, who was set to begin his 11th season at the helm when the 2019 baseball season begins, has eclipsed the 200-win mark in his career at Tarleton and guided the Texans to three conference championships over the last six seasons.
The Texans brought home the school’s first-ever LSC regular-season championship in 2013 and followed up by delivering its first-ever LSC Tournament Championship in 2014 to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA playoffs. In 2018, Tarleton knocked down the door of the NCAA regional tournament by slugging its way to an automatic berth with wins over Texas A&M-Kingsville and West Texas A&M to secure the LSC Tournament title for the second time in program history.
In addition to the conference championships, Conger has also been a part of all four of Tarleton’s NCAA regional playoff appearances. He was the pitching coach under Tarleton’s Hall of Fame head coach, Jack Allen, in 1998 when the Texans earned their first NCAA regional appearance in school history. He has since led the Texans to their last three regional tournaments – this time as the head coach in 2011, 2014, and 2018.
Under Conger’s leadership, Tarleton made its debut in the national polls with a No. 15 ranking by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on March 7, 2011. The Texans have since been nationally ranked in five of the last eight seasons, including a No. 15 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball News poll in March 2017. The Texans also climbed as high as No. 12 in the nation in the HeroSports.com computer rankings.
In 2017, Conger pulled off one of the best turnarounds following a sub-.500 season in school history. The Texans won 28 games and were ranked as high as No. 6 in the NCAA regional poll with one week left in the regular season. After missing out on the regional tournament in 2017, the 2018 Texans took matters into their own hands by winning 35 games and finishing second in the Lone Star Conference standings. Tarleton scored 36 runs in two games at the LSC Tournament to defeat No. 3-seed Kingsville and No. 1-seed West Texas A&M to guarantee the program’s fourth trip to the national playoffs.
In 2014, Conger’s Texans boasted a record of 30-24 and entered the LSC Championship Tournament as the No. 3 seed. The Texans won three straight games at the tournament in Kingsville, including two over West Texas A&M, to bring home the tournament crown and earn a berth in the NCAA South Central regional tournament. At the regional in Grand Junction, Colorado, Tarleton rallied for an extra-inning win over New Mexico Highlands to earn Conger’s first regional victory as a head coach.
Tarleton’s championship tradition officially began in 2013 when Conger’s Texans, led by the pitching performances of Pete Perez, Miguel Ramirez and Britt Robertshaw – all of whom would advance their careers to the professional level the next season – posted a record of 34-16-1 and claimed the first outright LSC championship in school history. Conger’s effort in 2013 earned him his first career Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year honor.
The rise of Tarleton baseball began when Conger was named the head coach in the summer of 2008 and he was given the responsibility of turning around a team that went 24-31 the previous year and hadn’t posted a winning record since 2003.
Conger was more than up for the challenge.
The Tarleton head coach guided the Texans to a 28-win season in the 2009 campaign and a Lone Star Conference Tournament appearance in just his first season. He earned his first 30-win season in 2011 and followed up with 30 or more wins in every season since. Conger’s seventh season also included a milestone moment on April 18, 2015 in Lawton when the Texans battled to a 3-1 win over Cameron to deliver Conger his 200th career win.
His 35 wins in 2011 were enough to send the Texans into the NCAA regional tournament for the first time in Conger’s head-coaching career and start the run of championship success.
Since Conger took over as head coach at Tarleton, the Texans have racked up the accolades, not just from the LSC but also, from across the nation. Since 2009, Tarleton has had 69 all-conference selections, including 22 first-team selections, as well as 37 all-region award winners and four All-Americans, including Blake Adams who was named to three different All-America teams in 2018. Conger has also coached two ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove winners and the 2018 LSC Pitcher of the Year, Nathan Hickey. His squads have also had success in the classroom, boasting eight academic all-conference selections.
Over his entire coaching career, including his time at the University of Utah, Lamar Community College and Cloud Community College, Conger has had 34 players drafted into Major League Baseball including Brandon McCarthy and Stephen Fife. The Tampa Bay Rays drafted Tarleton’s Ryan Turner in 2011 to become the school’s seventh MLB draft choice and the first Texan drafted under Conger.
Prior to coming back to Tarleton for the head coaching position, Conger had stops at Lamar Community College, Cloud County Community College and the University of Utah.
In his five seasons as the pitching coach with Utah, the Utes pitching staff set or tied more than 10 team or individual records. Those records include most strikeouts in a season, single-season strikeouts and career saves.
Under Conger, the Utes’ pitching staff finished the 2008 season second in the Mountain West Conference with a combined 5.23 earned run average and held opponents to just a .294 batting average against them. It was Utah’s lowest ERA in 33 years. At the end of the season, Stephen Fife, a pitcher for the Utes under Conger’s tutelage was drafted in the third round (85th pick overall) by the Boston Red Sox in that year’s Major League Baseball amateur draft. In 2012, catcher C.J. Cron became the first player to be selected in the first round of the MLB draft that was part of Conger’s recruiting class.
Before being named an assistant coach at Utah, the Stephenville native served as the head coach at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan. during the 2003 season. His team finished in second place following the Jayhawk Conference Tournament and captured the school’s first-ever postseason victories. Prior to that, Conger served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Lamar Community College in Lamar, Colo. During his stay at Lamar, the Runnin’ Lopes won back-to-back conference titles while making the school’s first-ever Junior College World Series appearance. The LCC pitching staff enjoyed great success, setting multiple school records for ERA, strikeouts, saves, shutouts and appearances. Four of his pitchers were drafted, five signed with Division I teams and six were named all-region.
During his collegiate playing career, Conger was named the Texans’ Comeback Player of the Year in 1994 and was named the Most Valuable Pitcher in 1995. He then spent two years as a professional player with Pine Bluff in the Texas-Louisiana League before getting his coaching career started as the graduate assistant and pitching coach for Jack Allen.
A graduate of Stephenville High School, Conger earned his bachelor’s degree in speech communications in 1995 and a master’s degree in 1999. He and his wife, Melanie, have three children – Maddux, Kaleigh and Jacoby. The couple resides in Stephenville. His son, Maddux, pitched for Vanderbilt University and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 22ndround of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers, while daughter, Kaleigh, plays volleyball for Tarleton.
Conger’s youngest son, Jacoby, was diagnosed with CFC (Cardio-Facio-Cutaneous) Syndrome. In 2018, Tarleton Athletics held a CFC Awareness Weekend where Jacoby threw out the first pitch at a baseball and softball game. To learn more about CFC Syndrome and the Conger’s story, read ‘When Life Threw A Curveball: Tarleton’s Bryan Conger learns balance of family, baseball while raising son with CFC Syndrome.’