Ryan Kelley, who was named head coach in September of 2008, is in his 11th year at the helm of the Wayne State University baseball program during the 2018-19 academic year. The ninth head coach in the 77-year history of WSU baseball, Kelley’s .589 (307-214-1) winning percentage is the best among coaches in program history. He became the program's all-time winningest coach with two wins on April 23, 2017, passing 14-year head coach Rodger George.
He has been with the Warriors for 16 seasons after serving as an assistant coach for six years, including three as WSU’s pitching coach.
Wayne State went 27-21 in 2018 as WSU secured the fourth seed in the GLIAC Tournament. Kelley helped senior starting pitcher Jared Tobey to First Team All-GLIAC accolades, Midwest Regional honors and a 30th round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers. JT Conti also collected All-Region recognition, while Justin Kelly, Brad Baldwin also collected First Team All-League honors. During the summer, he was named 2018 Coach of the Year by the Detroit Tigers in an on-field presentation prior to the game on July 5th.
In 2017, he led WSU to its ninth 30-win season in program history and sixth in Kelley's time in Detroit. The Warriors played in GLIAC Tournament for the 10th straight season and were selected for the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in the last 12 seasons and first time since 2014. WSU won three NCAA Tournament games, which matches the most in the program's history since 2011.
Kelley coached his 400th game at Wayne State in 2016 and led the Warriors to their ninth straight GLIAC Tournament. WSU finished 28-24 overall and 19-13 in the league. WSU continued to protect its home field, going 14-7 in Detroit. The 2016 season produced one of the better offenses in the league and in program history. WSU notched the most doubles (127) and extra-base hits (167), and the second-most total bases (752) in program history, while scoring 329 runs, which ranks eighth all-time. In addition, Wayne State drove in 296 RBI, which is the fifth-most in school history.
The Green & Gold also ranked 12th nationally in doubles and seventh in doubles per game (2.44). On the mound, WSU led the league in ERA at 4.41. Six Warriors collected All-GLIAC honors as Josh Arndt was awarded the Troy Berry Award, Alex Kinch, Brad Baldwin and Griffin Harms were First Team all-league honorees and JT Conti and Ryan Mergener were named to the All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team. Mergener was also named to the GLIAC All-Tournament Team. Harms and Kinch earned D2CCA All-Region honors. Kinch also was a Midwest Region Gold Glove nominee. Harms collected ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-Region accolades.
In 2015, WSU qualified for the GLIAC Tournament for the 11th time in the last 12 years. At the conference postseason tournament, the Warriors won back-to-back elimination games over Malone (5/8) and Ohio Dominican (5/9) to advance to a semifinal meeting against Ashland. Kelley led his roster to a 9-5 record at home. Four Warriors collected league honors as Christian Bilkovic won the inaugural Troy Berry Award, Jeff Sorenson was selected to the All-GLIAC Second Team, while Jared Tobey and Bradley Baldwin were named to the All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team. Nate Manis and Kyle Zimmerman were named to the All-GLIAC Tournament Team. Zimmerman was also named to the Daktronics All-Midwest Region Team as a utility player.
Kelley won his 200th game at Wayne State on March 16, 2015, with a 10-1 win over Minnesota Dultuh.
In 2014, Wayne State reached the 30-win plateau for the eighth time in school history and the sixth time in a seven year span. The 34 regular-season victories in 2014 was a then school record and the 10-game winning streak earlier in the campaign was also a school best. The Warriors finished 15-1 at home, which is the best winning percentage in program history and matched the second most wins all-time at home.
Kelley led the Warriors to the most wins in a season in program history (36) in 2014, the second-best winning percentage and its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in five years. The Warriors knocked off #18 Drury, 1-0, to begin the regional tournament. Six Warriors earned All-GLIAC honors including Jeremy Carrell, Alex Kinch and Kyle Zimmerman being named to the All-GLIAC First Team. Four student-athletes were named Daktronics All-Midwest Region including Eric Cunningham being a First Team selection. Zimmerman was a NCBWA All-Midwest Region Gold Glove recipient while Carrell and Zimmerman were CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team selections.
The Warriors collected 468 hits in 2014, which ranks eighth all-time and hit 95 doubles, which is tied for fourth all-time. The pitching staff posted the seventh best ERA in program history (3.52) in the third-most innings pitched (406.0). Defensively, WSU notched one of their better seasons - finishing with a .966 fielding percentage, which is tied for second all-time.
In 2013, Wayne State won 30+ games for the fourth consecutive season and Coach Kelley aided in the development of a senior class that won 134 games over its four seasons. Brad Guenther was named GLIAC Player of the Year, which was the first such honor for a Warrior since 2005. WSU had four All-GLIAC First Team selections (Guenther, Alex Pierse, Kenny Davis and Kasey Koster). Guenther was also a Tino Martinez Award semifinalist, which is given to the top DII baseball player in the country. In addition, Pierse, Guenther and Koster all collected NCBWA, Daktronics and ABCA/Rawlings All-Midwest Region honors.
Coach Kelley has led WSU’s community outreach program. Josh Arndt will receive the Michigan Campus Compact Commitment to Service Award in April 2016 for his work in Uganda. His team and student-athlete, Christian Bilkovic, was honored on June 20, 2013, by The Children’s Center of Detroit for its commitment to bettering the surrounding region. Nominees in this category must be a community or civic group that demonstrates exceptional organizational initiative, member participation and commitment through volunteerism and service during the last fiscal year. The Salvation Army also recognized the Warrior baseball program with the “Doing the Most Good” Award on Oct. 23, 2013. In the last seven seasons, WSU baseball has accumulated over 8,409 community service hours, including weekly visits to The Children’s Center and working with the Detroit Tigers Youth Foundation. In 2009, student-athlete Caleb Dalman received the distinguished WSU Service Leader Award.
Wayne State won 34 games in 2012 and qualified for the NCAA Regional for the third straight year. In 2011, the Warriors set a ten school record for wins (35) and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Midwest Regional for the second time in program history.
Kelley was chosen as the 2010 GLIAC Coach of the Year as his squad won 32 games and earned the GLIAC regular-season and tournament championships. In 2009, Kelley guided the team to 25 victories, as he broke his predecessor Jay Alexander’s record for most wins by a first-year head coach in program history.
Since Kelley was named head coach, Wayne State has established nine new offensive team records and produced five top-10 pitching records. His success at Wayne State also earned him an invitation to coach at the Team USA 2011 Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., where he assisted in evaluating and selecting members of the 18U National Team which went on to win Gold at the Pan American Games.
In the summer of 2004, Kelley became a community director within the WSU Office of Housing & Residential Life, a position he held until taking over as the athletic department’s academic coordinator in February 2006. A responsibility he held for two years until his promotion to head baseball coach.
Originally from Northville, Kelley was a four-year pitcher at Michigan (1996-1999). He would help the Wolverines win the 1997 Big Ten Championship and the 1999 Big Ten Tournament Championship. Following the 1997 season, Kelley was a pitcher in the Alaskan Central Collegiate baseball league for the Mat-Su Minors.
Kelley played high school ball at Dearborn Divine Child where he earned all-state and honorable mention preseason All-America honors.
He also completed a graduate assistant position with the Detroit Lions and has worked in Wayne State’s sports information department. In addition, he completed a graduate assistantship with Stanford University’s athletic department.
In his six seasons as an assistant coach at WSU, the Warriors compiled a 161-148 record (.521 winning percentage), won two GLIAC regular-season titles, made four GLIAC tournament appearances, and advanced to the NCAA Regional twice.
The 2008 squad set the WSU record for wins (34, since broken twice), while coming within one win of advancing to the NCAA Division II Championship round.
Over his entire career at Wayne State, the baseball program has received 197 Academic All-GLIAC selections, 85 All-GLIAC awards and 48 All-Region honors.
In 2008, Anthony Bass and Adam Kaminski became the first WSU baseball All-Americans in 30 years, and three years later Michael Wiseman followed suit as an All-American. In 2012, Andrew Ciennik was named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-America First Team, the first WSU baseball student-athlete to receive Academic All-America honors since 1995.
In addition, eight players under Kelley’s watch have signed professional contracts with Major League Baseball organizations - Jared Tobey (Detroit Tigers, 2018), Brad Guenther (Los Angeles Angels, 2013), Brett Shankin (Seattle Mariners, 2011), Ryan LaPensee (Arizona Diamondbacks, 2010), Justin Mazur (Kansas City Royals, 2010), Bass (San Diego Padres, 2008), Steve Squires (Chicago White Sox, 2005), and Randy Surratt (Chicago White Sox, 2004).
Kelley and his wife Devon reside in Plymouth, Mich. with their daughters Kayline and Grayson. Kelley’s wife Devon played softball and graduated from The University of Detroit Mercy. Coach Kelley’s mother, Virginia, was the first woman in the state of Michigan to compete as a Harness Horse Jockey. Coach Kelley has ran the Detroit Marathon on three occasions. The first effort in 2002 was with his Grandfather Bill Kelley who was 75 at the time, then with his wife Devon, and later with WSU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Frank Jeney. His father-in-law, Dennis Brisky was an NCAA football student-athlete and graduated from The University of Buffalo, where he played defense under legendary coach Buddy Ryan.