Former UC Santa Barbara assistant coach Neil Walton joined the Titans as their new volunteer assistant coach, Head Coach Rick Vanderhook announced on Sept. 26, 2017.
In Walton's role he will work mostly work with the infielders and develop the student-athletes on and off the field, while Murrietta will handle all administrative duties, including heading up the Titan Baseball Camps.
Over the last four seasons, Walton helped guide Big West rival UCSB to a 141-86-3 overall record, including a trip to the College World Series in 2016. As a player and coach, Walton has been a part of teams that have gone a collective 335-152-3 at the Division I level. Those teams have made six Regionals, five Super Regionals, and three College World Series.
During the Gauchos' magical 2016 run to the CWS, the team set a new program record for wins against Division I opponents with a 43-20-1 record. Five UCSB players were picked in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft, bringing the total to 20 Gauchos that have had the opportunity to play pro baseball during Walton's tenure. UCSB also sported six All-Big West players and made jumps in home runs (32, plus-15) and stolen bases (77, plus-13) with a group that returned only two players that had over 100 at-bats in 2015.
Walton also helped put UCSB on the map during his recruiting circuit while he was there, as each recruiting class during Walton's tenure had been nationally ranked, including the 2016 class which was ranked No. 9 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball, which marked the first top-10 class in program history and was tops in the state of California for 2016.
As a player, Walton was a three-year standout for the Titans. A slick-fielding shortstop, he featured in 107 games over three years at Cal State Fullerton. Walton was fortunate to play for future head coaches in George Horton, Vanderhook, Dave Serrano, and Jason Gill. The Titans were ranked No. 1 in the country at some point of the season in all three of his years, and they won the National Championship during his sophomore stint. Following his junior year, Walton was part of a NCAA-record group of 14 Titans that were selected in the 2005 MLB draft.
After Fullerton, Walton was drafted by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2005 MLB First Year Player Draft. He had earlier been drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft, but attended Fullerton in lieu of signing. Walton spent four years in the Tampa Bay organization, rising as high as AA in 2008.
In the 2015 season, Walton watched over a UCSB group that returned to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years, but also became the first UCSB squad in program history to host a regional.
The 2015 group finished the year with a 40-17-1 record and led the Big West conference on both sides of the ball by hitting .289 and fielding at a .976 clip. Following in the footsteps of 2014 All-American Joey Epperson, Cameron Newell shared the Big West Field Player of the Year Award with Cal State Fullerton's very own David Olmedo-Barrera, becoming UCSB's first conference Player of the Year since 1991. Newell joined nine of his other teammates as 2015 All-Conference selections, including position players Campbell Wear, Peter Maris, Robby Nesovic, Andrew Calica, and Luke Swenson.
At the end of the 2015 season, the Gauchos saw a program-record 10 of their players selected in the MLB draft. That number was second in the country only to Oklahoma's 11. Shortly after the draft, infielder Peter Maris signed as a free agent with the Rays which put the number to 11 players with the opportunity to play professionally in 2015.
In Walton's first season with the Gauchos, UCSB was ranked among the top-10 nationally for the first time since 1986. Four players off the 2014 team were selected in the MLB draft including Golden Spikes Award nominee Joey Epperson. The Gauchos finished the season with a 34-17 record and five All-Conference selections. The incoming 2015 recruiting class also ranked No. 32 in the nation.
Prior to his time at UCSB, Walton spent time as a manager at Cal State Fullerton assisting head coach Rick Vanderhook with on field and off field duties during his first season as head coach. That 2013 Titan team went 51-10 on its way to winning the Big West and reaching the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive season. Seventeen players went on to become draft picks off that team, including first round selections Outfielder/Pitcher Michael Lorenzen, infielder Matt Chapman, second rounder Thomas Eshelman, and third rounder JD Davis. The Titan team also produced six All-Americans, and 10+ All-Conference selections including Conference Defensive Player of the Year Richie Pedroza.
In the summer before Walton arrived in Santa Barbara, he served as the assistant pitching coach/interim field manager for the Terre Haute Rex Baseball Club in the Prospect Summer Collegiate League.
Walton graduated from Cal State Fullerton with an undergraduate degree in 2010. Once finished playing, Walton earned his masters in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports psychology at Cal State Fullerton in 2013.