Mark Ryal has been hired as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma State Cowgirl softball team, it was announced today by head coach Rich Wieligman.
"Mark will be a huge asset to our program," Wieligman said. "With his playing experience, and his vast knowledge in regards to the art of hitting, he is very good at evaluating talent and can develop players to their full potential. He's also very good at scouting, which will help in the overall success of our program in all facets of the game."
Ryal, a native of Dewar, Okla., comes to Oklahoma State after serving as an assistant at South Alabama during the 2013-14 season. He helped lead the Jaguars to a 42-14 overall record and regional-final appearance in the NCAA Tournament. USA was ranked as high as No. 11 in the NFCA Coaches poll midway through the season, and fell to national runner-up Alabama 3-0 in the Jaguars' final game of the season. He instructed three Jaguars who received All-Sun Belt Conference honors, including a pair of outfielders.
Ryal spent the previous year as the head coach at Prague (Okla.) High School. He returned to the state of Oklahoma after spending five seasons with the Auburn Tigers' program, serving as the hitting coach and developing a philosophy on quality at-bats. He also worked primarily with the outfielders on defense. In his final season with Auburn in 2012, the Tiger offense recorded its fewest strikeouts since 1999.
In 2011, Auburn was ranked in both the ESPN and NFCA top-25 polls, spending 12 weeks in the NFCA poll and reaching a high of 21st. Auburn also registered its first-ever series with over a top-five team, taking 2-of-3 games from fourth-ranked Georgia.
Ryal helped take Auburn to three-consecutive NCAA Regional appearances. He was also involved in the development of five All-SEC players during his tenure with the Tigers.
Prior to his arrival at Auburn, Ryal was the head coach at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Okla., during the 2007-08 season following a four-year stint as head coach at Inola (Okla.) High School. In 1995, he served as the hitting coach for the Oklahoma Sooners during their College World Series run.
As a player, Ryal broke into Major League Baseball in 1982 with Kansas City after four years in the Royals' minor league system. He was drafted in the third round of the 1978 draft. He also played for the Chicago White Sox (1985), California Angels (1986-87), Philadelphia Phillies (1989) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1990). He served one season as a scout for the Royals in 2005.
Ryal earned his bachelor's degree from East Central University in 1997. He and his wife, Renae, have three children: a son, Rusty, and daughters, Kacie and Karlie. Rusty, who played baseball for Oklahoma State in 2004-05, was drafted by Arizona in the 2005 MLB draft, and made his major-league debut with the Diamondbacks on August 10, 2009. He is currently with Lehigh Valley, the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A International team. Kacie played softball at Auburn-Montgomery for three years and played in the 2012 NAIA World Series, advancing to the semifinals before falling to Oklahoma City.