To say that Bryan Conger has elevated the Tarleton State baseball program to an elite level, not just within the Lone Star Conference but also throughout the nation, would be an understatement.
Conger, who is set to begin his ninth season at the helm when the 2017 season gets under way, has eclipsed the 200-win mark in his career at Tarleton and guided the Texans to back-to-back conference championships during his tenure. 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 addition to the conference championships, Conger has also been a part of all three 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 two regional tournaments – this time as the head coach in 2011 and 2014.
Under Conger’s leadership, Tarleton State 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 every season since 2011.
Over the last two seasons, Tarleton took a pair of young teams through the gauntlet of two of the top-ranked schedules in the nation. The Texans qualified for their seventh straight LSC Championship Tournament and advanced to the title game for the third time in the last four years in the 2015 season. 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.
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.
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.
Since Conger took over as head coach at Tarleton State, the Texans have racked up the accolades, not just from the LSC but also, from across the nation. Since 2009, Tarleton has had 46 all-conference selections, including 14 first-team selections, as well as 20 all-region award winners and two All-Americans. Conger has also coached a Rawlings Gold Glove winner and an ABCA first-team gold glove recipient. His squads have also had success in the classroom, boasting seven academic all-conference selections and over 70 LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll selections.
In 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, is a pitcher for Vanderbilt University, while daughter, Kaleigh, plays volleyball at North Central Texas College.