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Mike Leonard, a former Boston Red Sox minor leaguer and All-Big East catcher at the University of Connecticut, was appointed as head baseball coach at Bates College in November 2010.
Leonard has led the Bobcats to the NESCAC Baseball Championship tournament in back-to-back seasons. In 2015, the Bobcats rallied with a three-game sweep of Trinity in the final series of the season to earn a trip to the playoffs. Bates posted an overall record of 17-20, and finished second in the NESCAC East with a 7-5 record.
Under Leonard's guidance, Bates has placed five players on the NESCAC All-Conference First Team, and one player on the NESCAC All-Conference Second Team. Other postseason individual honors include a 2015 ABCA Rawlings New England Third Team All-Region for Nate Pajka, and a 2013 ECAC All-Star nod for catcher Mekae Hyde.
Leonard won his 100th game as a coach at Bates when the Bobcats rallied for an 8-7 victory over Tufts University on the second day of the NESCAC Championships in 2015.
Leonard was drafted by the Red Sox following an All-Big East career at the University of Connecticut, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 2004. He spent four years as a catcher in the Red Sox minor league system, including two months with the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. He concluded his professional career in 2009 as a player-coach under former Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman with the Worcester Tornadoes of the independent Can-Am League.
"Mike is the person best suited to continue the arc of success that has been established with Bates baseball," Bates Director of Athletics Kevin McHugh said at the time of Leonard's appointment. McHugh said he was impressed by Leonard’s coaching philosophy and his plan for the team’s future, which combines "a unique blend" of the influences of some of his former coaches, such as his two head coaches at Connecticut, Andy Baylock and Jim Penders; St. Lawrence head coach Tom Fay; and Red Sox major league coaching assistant Rob Leary, a former minor league instructor for the organization. McHugh also cited Leonard’s playing background, his coaching experience and "the unique and highly applicable lessons that he learned while playing professionally."
Leonard began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at St. Lawrence University in 2008 and 2009, with primary responsibilities for pitchers, catchers, hitters and strength and conditioning. At St. Lawrence he earned a master of education degree in 2009.
Appointed head coach at Elms College in 2010, he led the Blazers to a 10-22 record. Leonard also instituted the “Blazer Buddies” after-school mentor program that served 15 elementary school children.
"I know that Bates, the athletic department and Kevin McHugh are committed to the same kind of athletic and academic excellence that I am," said Leonard. "I really look forward to being one piece of that."
A four-year starting catcher for Division I Connecticut, Leonard was an All-Big East selection in 2002 and 2003, and he remains on the Huskies’ top-15 career lists in hits (205), runs batted in (118), at bats (648) and games played (177). He was a team captain, a Dee Rowe Athletic Scholarship winner and a Big East Academic All-Conference honoree. During his college years he also played with the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Leonard starred at Rockville (Conn.) High School, and was named Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year and the Hartford Courant Player of the Year.
During his stint with the Red Sox, he played for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, the Lowell Spinners, and the Greenville Drive before reaching Portland. While with the Spinners in 2005, Leonard competed alongside such future major leaguers as Jed Lowrie, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.
In 2013, Leonard was inducted into the Rockville (Conn.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Jeff Benson enters his fifth season as an assistant coach in the Bates College baseball program in 2016, working with the team’s outfielders and hitters.
A 1979 graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, Benson played baseball for the Beavers. He served as an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s College of Maine from 1987-90 and worked as an umpire through Maine’s chapter of the Collegiate Baseball Umpires Assigning Organization for 15 years.
The athletic director at Oxford Hills High School, Benson resides in Auburn with his wife Jody.
Joe Michaud joined the Bates baseball coaching staff in the 2015-16 academic year, and is responsible for the Bates pitching staff, assisting with recruiting and managing Bates baseball youth camps and clinics.
Coach Michaud was a four-year starting pitcher at Division I Bryant University, posting a career record of 18-9 with a 3.53 earned run average. In his senior season, he helped lead the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA Division I Regionals appearance and the best record in school history (45-18-1). Coach Michaud was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 33rd round of the amateur draft and played in the Arizona Rookie League, the New York-Penn League and the Midwest League over two seasons in hte minors. His cumulative minor-league record was 5-5 with a 4.76 ERA.
Coach Michaud graduated from Bryant with a degree in marketing in 2013 and is originally from Milford, Connecticut. He began his coaching career as a coach and instructor at The Clubhouse in Fairfield, Conn.