Catawba Valley Community College has developed a reputation for sending its players on to the next level, but now it has a coach joining the NCAA Division I ranks.
CVCC assistant baseball coach Marshall McDonald, who spent the past three seasons on the Red Hawks coaching staff as hitting and infield coach, was hired on Tuesday as a volunteer assistant coach at Presbyterian College.
“Having coach McDonald here at CVCC – he’s been an unbelievable asset for our kids not only in terms of development, but someone who knows what it means to play baseball at the Valley,” said CVCC head coach baseball coach Paul Rozzelle. “We are very, very proud of him. It’s nice to see he is going to continue on. We are so excited for him. He will always be a part of our family. Now, we get to watch him on the big stage.”
As a player, McDonald was part of the first CVCC baseball team in 2010. Playing first base, McDonald set the program’s benchmark for home runs, hitting a team-best 15 that season before earning first team All-Region X honors.
Following his time at CVCC, McDonald would go on to sign with Montreat College, where he would earn All-Appalachian Athletic Conference academic accolades during his junior and senior seasons.
Named a team captain during his senior season with the Cavaliers, McDonald earned all-conference honors during his final season at Montreat before graduating in 2012.
Following his collegiate baseball career, McDonald played professional baseball independently for the Skagit Valley Lumberjacks, Hawaii Stars, Vallejo Admirals, Sonoma Stompers and Pittsburgh Mettel. He also played for the Rincon Touristas in the Puerto Rican League for Liga De Beisbol Superior AA in 2013.
In 2014, McDonald joined the baseball coaching staff at CVCC as a volunteer assistant to a team that would go on to set a school record for wins (41) and win the Carolina/Virginias regular-season conference championship.
"CVCC has given me a chance to get my coaching career started as well as kick-start my playing career seven years ago,” McDonald said. “I owe a lot of my baseball career to the CVCC program – (former CVCC head baseball coach) Frank Pait, Paul Rozzelle and (CVCC Athletic Director) Nick Schroeder.”
The 28-year-old Red Springs, N.C. native would be promoted to hitting and infield coach in 2015, and he made an immediate impact on the program in his new role. The Red Hawks finished ranked in the top-25 nationally in four offensive categories – ninth in doubles, 11th in hits, 14th in home runs and 23rd in runs – and CVCC also set a school record for hits (585) before going on to win regular-season, region and district championships, reach the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II College World Series and finish a program-best third in the nation.
The Red Hawks continued to re-write the offensive record books under McDonald in 2016, setting new program marks for on-base percentage (.424), runs scored (415), doubles (126), home runs (48) and RBIs (362). CVCC also ranked in the top-25 nationally in doubles (sixth), slugging percentage (13th), home runs (18th), batting average (21st), hits (21st), runs (24th) and RBIs (25th).
This past spring, CVCC’s offense set even more records at the plate, including the most home runs hit in a season (63), and the Red Hawks tied the school record for the most runs scored in a game (23).
CVCC also had its first-ever national player of the year in 2017 – outfielder Chandler Jenkins – who set individual season records for RBIs (74), batting average (.460), on-base percentage (.516), slugging percentage (.868), total bases (164) and extra base hits (40). Jenkins also broke McDonald’s single-season and career home run record (17).
Honing his coaching craft during the past three summers, McDonald spent time with the Statesville Owls in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League in 2015, the Lenoir Oilers in the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League in 2016 and the Lexington County (S.C.) Blowfish in the Coastal Plains League this past summer.
The decision to leave CVCC is a tough one for McDonald, but he is excited to start his next coaching journey with the Blue Hose.
“It is very bittersweet to be leaving, but God is leading me elsewhere, and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity given to me by Presbyterian College and coach (Elton) Pollock,” McDonald said. “CVCC and the town of Hickory will always be my home, and I will definitely miss it. It holds a special place in my heart. I wish CVCC nothing, but success in the coming years. The relationships I've made on and off the field will go with me wherever I go. I wish all my players – past and present – the best of luck and hope you continue to play 'The Valley Way.'"