Ashland University baseball players

Four AU baseball players earn 4.0 GPAs, team boasts 3.44 GPA

Published on March 20, 2023

In his 36 years of coaching college baseball, John Schaly has never had a team grade point average as high as the 3.44 his Ashland University squad earned in the fall semester.

“It was by far my best semester ever. Honestly, it’s not even close,” said Schaly, who is in his 26th year as AU’s head baseball coach after coaching the previous six years at St. Leo University in Florida and his first four seasons at Berry College in Georgia.

Not only did 42 of the 44 team members have a 3.0 GPA or higher and 22 earned a 3.5 or better, but Schaly’s team also had four players with 4.0 GPAs during the fall semester: junior transfer pitcher Zac Common (exercise science major), redshirt sophomore first baseman Joey Bertani (finance) and brothers Sam Witt (a sophomore transfer first baseman majoring in environmental science) and Seth Witt (actuarial science, freshman pitcher).

“We’ve had one or two here or there, but we’ve never had four before,” Schaly said about his quartet of 4.0 players.

Why were the GPAs so good for the baseball program in the fall?

“We’ve tried to recruit good students by combining academic scholarship money and athletic money,” Schaly said. “We’ve made a conscious effort to bring in good students.”

Schaly said he also stresses academics, telling his players to be in class, take notes, turn things in on time, have a planner and get help from tutors if needed.

“The No. 1 thing is to get your degree,” Schaly said. “You have that forever.”

Sam Witt, who transferred from Owens Community College, said he likes that the AU baseball program stresses succeeding not only on the field, but also in the classroom.

“I think it’s good for me to push my mind as well as my body and focus on being more career-focused,” said Witt, who had a cumulative 3.95 GPA at Owens in Perrysburg, Ohio.

Witt said he also likes that he’s playing for a historically good program. Schaly brought a .652 winning percentage at AU (876-467-4 record) into this season. The Eagles have played in the postseason 17 times under Schaly with five NCAA Division II College World Series appearances. 

It has been going well for the brothers from Martin, Ohio, both as teammates and students at the same school other than the typical brotherly bickering here and there, both Sam and Seth Witt agreed. Seth added that’s been nice for their parents to have them both at the same college.

Common, who transferred from Bellarmine University in Kentucky, said he also chose AU for its winning baseball tradition and emphasis on academics when he was looking to move closer to his home in Kent, Ohio. He said a big reason for his 4.0 GPA last fall was taking mostly classes related to his exercise science major as a third-year student.

Bertani said he’s been able to earn 4.0s the past three semesters after a 3.6 and a 3.8 his first two semesters at AU because he has learned to manage his time better and adjusted to the teaching styles of professors at the university.

AU’s baseball team wasn’t the only athletic program to have an impressive academic fall semester. All 24 teams achieved a 3.0 team GPA or higher.