Razorbacks bring taste of home to Charlotte's Doty

By: Matt Jones
Published: Monday, March 19, 2018
Charlotte pitching coach Shohn Doty grew up in Arkansas and knows the Razorbacks well.
Photo by Charlotte Athletics
Charlotte pitching coach Shohn Doty grew up in Arkansas and knows the Razorbacks well.

FAYETTEVILLE — Shohn Doty has spent the past few days answering phone calls and messages from home.

Doty, the second-year pitching coach at Charlotte, grew up in Springdale and was an Arkansas graduate assistant under Norm DeBriyn for two seasons from 1994-95.

Doty’s 49ers will host the Razorbacks on Tuesday for the first of a two-game series in Charlotte.

“The phone calls have ranged from good luck and laughing and joking, to, ‘You better strap it on because you’re about to play a really good ball club,’” Doty said.

Charlotte’s task this week is a tall one. Doty’s pitching staff will face an Arkansas lineup that has scored 69 runs in its past 44 plate appearances dating to an 11-4 win over Kent State on March 11.

The Razorbacks scored 39 runs in a three-game sweep of No. 11 Kentucky last weekend. Arkansas had 49 hits in the series, including 13 home runs.

Shohn Doty At a Glance

Doty is a 1987 graduate of Springdale High School. He played two seasons at Crowder Community College in Neosho, Mo., where he set the program record with 31 doubles as a sophomore. He later played two seasons at Arkansas Tech….Doty coached at Arkansas Tech in 1993, Arkansas in 1994-95, Arkansas-Fort Smith in 2005-14 and Springdale High School in 2015-16. He also has coached at Indiana State, UNC-Wilmington, Old Dominion and Pratt (Kan.) Community College….Doty’s daughter, Bethany, is a junior infielder on the Charlotte softball team.

“I’ve had some buddies say, ‘Hey, I watched Arkansas play Kentucky this week and you guys have got no shot,’” Doty said laughing.

“I’m not going to sit here and lie to you, it’s a little daunting. Obviously they’re a very talented and balanced and deep lineup, and a great pitching staff. It’ll be a challenge for our guys, but we’re excited about it. It’s not very often that you get the fourth-ranked team in the country coming in here.”

Charlotte will throw junior right-hander Chase Gooding against the Razorbacks tonight. Gooding is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13 innings, and is coming off a win over Wake Forest last week at BB&T Ballpark, the downtown Class AAA facility that is home to the Charlotte Knights - a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox - and where the 49ers will host the Razorbacks on Tuesday before moving to the UNC-Charlotte campus Wednesday.

“He threw the ball pretty well,” Doty said. “We’re hoping to stretch him out a little more. The rest of it will be pieced together with short stints to keep guys fresh.”

Doty is hopeful several pitchers can give the 49ers an edge in the series.

“With as good a club as Arkansas has, it will give them some different looks,” Doty said. “The old adage is to maybe get (every pitcher) one time through the lineup where you don’t get as good a read on guys. That’s probably the direction we’re going.”

Doty is familiar with several players on the Arkansas roster. He spent two seasons as head coach at Springdale High School from 2015-16. The Razorbacks’ roster includes four players who Doty’s Springdale team played against in conference games - catcher Grant Koch of Fayetteville and pitchers Cody Scroggins of Bentonville, Kacey Murphy of Rogers Heritage and Weston Rogers of Springdale Har-Ber.

At Springdale, Doty turned around a program that had not been to the state tournament for a decade before he arrived. He spearheaded a plan to build new locker rooms at the Bulldogs’ off-campus park, and coached Springdale to the state tournament in 2016, a season in which the Bulldogs broke school records for lowest team ERA (1.74), fewest walks in a season (42) and strikeouts in a season (232).

“When the opportunity came to do Springdale, it was a chance to get home,” he said. “You always enjoy a chance to coach and make a difference at the high school you graduated from. Springdale High School did a lot for me and going back and trying to help that program that had been down a little bit, we were really excited about what we were able to do while we were there.”

Heading east was a bit of a homecoming too. Doty had previously been an assistant coach at UNC-Wilmington and at Old Dominion in Virginia, where he coached Justin Verlander, the former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner.

Doty’s move to Charlotte also united him with an old friend, longtime 49ers head coach Loren Hibbs.

This week isn’t the last Doty expects to see of the Razorbacks. The 49ers are scheduled to play two games at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville next season, a trip to which Doty is looking forward.

“Next year will be neat for me coming home,” he said. “I told a couple of friends of mine from Springdale, ‘I know you’re huge Hog fans, but for two days in 2019, if I can find you something green to wear, do you think you can do it?’ They kind of laughed, so I don’t know if I can make that happen or not, but I sure am trying.”

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