College Sports

Southwestern Illinois College coach wins 800th career baseball game

The Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm’s 12th win in 14 games on Wednesday proved to be one to remember for veteran coach Neil Fiala.

Sophomore Zach Lindsay pitched 5 1/3 solid innings and the Blue Storm collected 13 hits in a 9-7 win over Kaskaskia College. The victory was the 800th at SWIC for the 58-year-old Fiala, who is in his 22nd season as the wiley head coach of the Blue Storm.

“It’s just another win for this team. We’ve been playing very good baseball the last couple of weeks and I think this team has a chance to be very good so it’s good that we were able to get another win,” Fiala said. “What does it mean to win No. 800. It means I’m old. I’ve been very fortunate to have coached many excellent players and many very strong teams here at SWIC. Those young men have gone on to become good citizens and become very successful in the business community. They are productive members of society. That’s what’s most important.”

Since Fiala took over the head coaching duties at SWIC, he now has a career record of 800-433. During his time at SWIC, Fiala has led the Blue Storm to five Great Rivers Atheltic Conference championships and five NJCAA Region 24 titles. Fiala is also a five-time GRAC coach of the Year and five time Region 24 Coach of the Year.

Fiala has coached 11 players who have gone on to earn NJCAA first team All-American honors and 177 players coached by Fiala have gone on to play at four-year colleges. A total of 42 players have signed contracts with Major League organizations.

The 9-7 win over Kaskaskia lifts SWIC to 13-6 for the season. The Blue Storm will be be in action soon as they will travel to Southeastern Illinois College for a GRAC doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon. SWIC returns home on Tuesday to take on Mineral Area College in a nonconference doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.