Head Coach James Grandey
Contact information for Coach Grandey
Office phone: 419-358-3292
James Grandey, a 2011 inductee into the Muskingum University Athletic Hall of Fame, is entering his 13th year as head baseball coach at Bluffton University. He is confident that the Beavers are moving in the right direction. "We have worked extremely hard as a program during the past 12 years," explained Coach Grandey. "We have a strong foundation for the future. Through continued hard work and improvement, we will be able to take the next step."
Grandey's tenure has been full of highs and lows, including the March 2, 2007, bus accident that claimed the lives of five of his players and left many others sidelined with serious injuries.
The Beavers have created a reputation as one of the HCAC's top offensive teams under Coach Grandey. Bluffton continued its assault on the record book in 2015. The Beaver defense had its finest season in school history, topping the charts with 1,030 putouts, 464 assists, 43 double plays and a .963 fielding percentage that was only bested by the 1974 team. Bluffton also set a new season mark with 15 saves, four more than the previous record set in 2014.
A record seven-game winning streak propelled the 2011 Beavers to a school-record 19 victories and Bluffton followed that with another 19-win season in 2012. Following the two 19-win seasons, Coach Grandey directed the Beavers to their best season in Bluffton history, a 21-18 finish in 2013 and 12-12 mark in the HCAC. Bluffton earned its first-ever series victory over Rose-Hulman and first-ever sweep of Mount St. Joseph. The Beavers continued to impress in 2015, coming up just one victory shy of their first-ever trip to the Heartland Conference tournament while winning a school-record 22 games, including 15 HCAC contests!
Before coming to Bluffton, Grandey served as a graduate assistant on the Muskingum College baseball and football coaching staff as he worked towards his master's degree.
Grandey earned a bachelor and master's degree from Muskingum College in 1999 and 2002, respectively, and was a standout student-athlete while playing for the Muskies. As a senior, he earned first team All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors in both football and baseball and was named first team All-Mideast Region in baseball, as well. Grandey's academic career was just as impressive, as he earned Academic All-OAC honors as a sophomore, junior and senior and was named first team CoSIDA Academic All-American in baseball as a senior.
Coach Grandey completed a second master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University in 2012. He was recently named associate athletic director for development. In this role, James will work closely with the athletic director and director of development to plan and implement annual and multi-year strategies to engage constituents in ways that grow financial support for Bluffton's mission, programs and students—including both athletics programs and broader institutional priorities and fundraising effort. Specifically, James will work with coaches to coordinate the annual fundraising efforts of each team, coordinate the strategy for TEAM Bluffton's annual fundraising goals and build donor relations with alumni athletes, friends and businesses.
Grandey recently completed his second of four years as a member of the NCAA Division III Baseball National Committee. As a committee member, his duties include facilitating weekly regional ranking calls to determine the top teams in the Mideast Region. He also served on the selection committee for the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament. Coach Grandey was the NCAA representative at the Mideast regional in May, where he was responsible for the management and administration of the entire regional tournament. He then represented the Mideast region at the NCAA Division III World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Grandey resides in Bluffton with his wife, Jessica, eight-year-old daughter, Ayla Marie, and five-year old daughter Lainey Mays.
Assistant Coach John Penn
Contact information for Coach PENN
Office phone: 419-358-3354
John Penn is in his second season as an assistant baseball coach with the Bluffton University baseball program. A 2014 graduate of Wabash College, Penn lettered in both baseball and wrestling (three times). He majored in rhetoric and also earned a minor in history at Wabash.
He was voted 2014 Teammate of the Year by the Little Giants and Penn served on the W.A.R. Council (Wabash Acts Responsibly). Penn was a member of the 2011 NCAC championship baseball team at Wabash.
Penn will serve as the pitching coach while also working with the catchers defensively. He is pursuing an MBA in sports management at Bluffton University.
Assistant Coach Paul Aiton
Contact Information for Coach Aiton
Paul Aiton is in his first season as assistant baseball coach with Bluffton University. Paul played baseball at New River Community College in Dublin, VA in 2004-05, he also played at Averett University in Danville, VA from 2007-09. He graduated in 2014 from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in physical education with the emphasis in sports management.
Paul comes to Bluffton after working with National Scouting Report as a recruiter at the high school level. He also is working with Inside Edge Scouting Services as a Video Scout and Data Analyst for Major League Baseball.
Paul will serve as the infield/outfield coach during the 2015-16 season. He will pursue an MBA in sports management at Bluffton University starting in August.
Assistant Coach Tyler Stephenson
Tyler Stephenson, a graduate of the 2012 class, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sports management and minor in coaching. He was a team captain his junior and senior years. Tyler was a four-year letterman for Bluffton baseball. He is currently in his second year of volunteer coaching.
Stephenson made a significant imprint on the career record books, starting with his then school-record 215 hits. He shattered the previous mark of 168 hits held by Brad Buckingham and Tony Moore. His school-best 52 doubles left John Holzwart's previous record 34 two-baggers in the dust as well. He finished second to fellow graduating senior Nick Broyles with 151 games played and 148 career starts. He crossed the plate 116 times (fourth all-time) while his 127 RBI and 323 total bases left him trailing just Broyles in the career records. The third baseman pounded 14 homers, placing him in a tie for fourth all-time. Defensively, Stephenson ended his career third with 278 assists and tied for ninth with 25 double plays. He wrapped up us his career with by being named First Team All-Heartland Conference as a senior after a pair of honorable mention selections. His 20 doubles in 2012 set a new single-season mark for two-baggers.
Tyler, who recently married Bluffton softball standout Brooke (Babcock) Stephenson, lives in Findlay Ohio.
Assistant Coach Kyle Niermann
Contact Information for Coach NIERMANN
Kyle Niermann is currently in his third year as a volunteer assistant outfield/hitting coach at Bluffton University. A 2013 graduate of Bluffton, Niermann was a graduate assistant in the sports information department, working alongside another Bluffton graduate, David Buck. He earned a Masters in Business Administration at Findlay.
A four-year starter for the Beavers in right field, Niermann is one of the most decorated athletes ever at Bluffton University. He capped off his superb career at Bluffton by being named First Team All-Mideast Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association. Leading the HCAC and coming in 12th all-time at Bluffton with a blistering .438 batting average, Kyle Niermann left an indelible impression on the record books and baseball program following his storied career with the Beavers. He led the Beavers to 19, 19 and 21 wins which all set or matched the school record for victories in his final three seasons at Bluffton. His school-record 71 hits placed him sixth in the country and the top five all played more games than Niermann. He is the only Beaver to put together three seasons of at least 60 hits. Niermann's 37 runs scored, 15 doubles and 90 total bases as a senior all placed him in the top 10 for a single season. The dean of Bluffton hitting fanned just seven times this season in over 180 plate appearances, or less than four percent of the time.
Niermann became Bluffton's most prolific hitter midway through his final campaign and never slowed down, pushing the school record for hits to 248 and dropping 2012 graduate Tyler Stephenson (215) to #2 all-time, just one season after he went around Brad Buckingham and Tony Moore who shared the mark with 168 safeties. His .391 career average is seventh all-time while his .535 slugging percentage places him 13th. He finished his career in the top five all-time for games played (146), games started (145), at bats (634), runs scored (142), doubles (49), triples (9), RBI (118), total bases (339). His at bats and total bases are tops all-time for the Beavers. Niermann was also outstanding on the bases and in the field. His 25 stolen bases are seventh all-time, while his .988 fielding percentage tied him for 11th all-time.
Niermann, who currently resides in Findlay, earned degrees in Business Administration and Sports Management where he was named the Distinguished Scholar following his senior year.