Entering his 11th season in Pullman and 10th as head coach at Washington State, Donnie Marbut is the third Cougar mentor to guide a team to the postseason, joining Buck Bailey and Bobo Brayton. Marbut is also third on the school’s win list behind the two men who have their name on Washington State’s home ballpark.
Under Marbut’s leadership, the Cougar program has shown marked improvement. In the decade following Brayton’s retirement (1995-2004), Washington State produced two-winning seasons, and averaged 22.1 wins per season. In Marbut tenure, Washington State has averaged nearly 30 wins per season and made a pair of trips to the NCAA Championship. In addition, 33 times, a student-athlete has heard his name called in the MLB Draft.
The Cougars have also has success off the field under Marbut. At least three student-athletes have been on the WSU President’s Honor Roll every semester beginning with the 2005 spring term. From 1995-2004, Washington State earned 47 conference all-academic awards. In the last-six years, the Cougars have garnered 38 certificates. When Marbut took over the program, Washington State’s APR was 853. That number increased to a school record 984 in 2008-09 and currently sits well above the NCAA requirement of 925.
The two-time Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Coach of the Year, Marbut joined the Cougar program in the fall of 2003 to assist the infielders and took over head coaching responsibilities May 31, 2004.
Last season, Collin Slaybaugh was named a CoSIDA Academic All-American and the Cougars produced four MLB Draft picks, all underclassmen. Three of the four chose to return to Pullman.
In 2012, Derek Jones, undrafted out of high school, set the Cougar-career record for home runs with 41 and was an eighth round pick of the Colorado Rockies in the MLB Draft. Jones and Taylor Ard, seventh round selection by the Seattle Mariners, were named ABCA All-West Region and All-Pac-12. They were among five Cougars selected in the MLB Draft.
In 2011, Ard led the Pac-10 with 10 home runs and tied for the conference lead with 55 RBI while batting a team-best .337. He was named All-Pac-10 and turned down the Boston Red Sox to return to Pullman for the 2012 campaign. Southpaw Adam Conley was selected in the second round by the Florida Marlins and turned pro after serving as the Cougars’ ace in 2011.
Marbut’s 2010 squad came within a victory of advancing to the NCAA Super Regional and posted a 37-22 record. The Cougars finished third in the Pac-10 Conference with a 15-12 mark. It was the second-straight trip to the postseason for Washington State. Senior Matt Fanelli was named the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete for baseball, the third-straight year the Cougars won the award.
In 2009, the Cougars made their first trip to the NCAA Championship since 1990 and finished with a 32-25 record, including 19-8 mark in the Pac-10. The 19 conference wins tied a school record and were good enough for second place, two games back of Pac-10 champion Arizona State. The 11-win improvement in conference play from 2008 to 2009 set a school record.
In the process, the Cougars set a single-season school record with 21 home wins, won a series at USC for the first time in school history, recorded three conference series sweep and five overall for the first time since 1991, and swept a three-game series from Washington for the first time since 1984.
Three Cougars, pitchers Jeremy Johnson and Matt Way, and outfielder Jared Prince, were named to the All-Pac-10 Team, the most for the program since 1998. In addition, outfielder Jones was named Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball and catcher Greg Lagreid was selected at the Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete for baseball.
Marbut is just the fifth full-time coach to guide the Cougar diamond program since the 1920s and follows, among others, 32-year head coach Bailey and Brayton, who was at the helm for 33 years.
Marbut has won 261 games as Washington State’s head coach. In 2009, WSU posted its fourth-straight winning season, something the Cougars had not done since 1994 when a 35-26 mark capped a run of 37 consecutive campaigns above .500.
In 2008, Washington State posted nine wins against nationally-ranked opponents, including a series victory over two-time defending national champion Oregon State. The Cougars also made an appearance in the polls, No. 28 by Collegiate Baseball. Paul Gran was an All-Pac-10 First Team selection and the conference’s defensive player of the year and Jayson Miller was named the Pac-10 Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
The Cougars’ 2006 recruiting class was ranked 25th nationally and in 2007, WSU won four conference series, at the time, the most by a Cougar team since the Pac-10 reunified in 1999.
In 2006, WSU’s 15-win improvement over 2005 tied for the greatest single-season jump in school history. WSU won conference series against Stanford and USC for the first time since the 1969 season, snapping a 23-game skid against Stanford in the process.
Additional highlights included three tournament titles and a national ranking (No. 28 by Collegiate Baseball) for the first time since the 1994 season.
In 2005, Marbut began the rebuilding process at WSU. After losing seven starters from the 2004 squad, the 2005 roster was comprised of 19 freshmen or first-year players. The youthful Cougars posted a 21-37 record, with 16 games being decided by two or fewer runs.
As an assistant with the Cougars in 2004, Marbut helped guide the team to a 29-26 record, WSU’s first winning campaign since 1998 and only its second since 1994. Marbut’s defensive prowess was immediately felt, with the Cougars setting a single-season school record for fielding percentage (.971671). Under his leadership, the Cougars broke the record in 2008 (.971672), posted the fourth-highest mark (.971) in school history during the 2009 season and shattered the record last year with a .978 mark.
A Washington native born and reared at Aberdeen, Marbut is no stranger to baseball in the Pacific Northwest. His background includes standout playing seasons at Aberdeen High School, Edmonds Community College and Portland State when the Vikings played in the old Pacific-10 Conference North Division.
His coaching pedigree includes Capital High in Olympia, two community colleges, Bellevue and Edmonds, and Washington State University as an assistant.
Marbut’s coaching career began at Capital High in Olympia, Wash., during the 1997-98 school year. In 1998 he was head assistant coach as the Cougars captured the state 3A championship.
Following his lone season at Capital High, Marbut was named assistant coach at Bellevue Community College for the 1999 season. In his one season at BCC, the club captured the NWAACC Northern Division title.
From Bellevue CC Marbut returned to Edmonds CC as head coach in 2000. While coaching at the school, he earned northern division coach of the year accolades in 2000, 2001 and 2003 and in two of those seasons, 2002 and 2003, Marbut was awarded NWAACC Coach of the Year honors.
During the 2003 season, he guided his team to a league record of 43 wins. Marbut completed his coaching career at Edmonds CC with a 152-38 record.
Growing up in Aberdeen, Marbut earned all-league honors three times in baseball at Aberdeen High. He also earned all-league honors three times in football and once in basketball. When he graduated in 1992, Marbut had set a total of six school records in three sports.
In the fall of 1992, Marbut enrolled in Edmonds Community College. While competing for Edmonds CC, he was named to the All-NWAACC team twice as an infielder, 1994 and 1995. In 1995, he was also named the teams’ most valuable player.
After receiving his associate of the arts degree from ECC in 1995, Marbut continued his education and career at Portland State. During his first year with the Vikings, Marbut was named the team’s most offensive player.