NORMAN – University of Oklahoma baseball head coach Skip Johnson completed his coaching staff with the addition of Clay Van Hook and Clay Overcash on Thursday morning. Van Hook joins the Sooners after a six-year run at Rice, while Overcash arrives in Norman after 18 years as a scout for the Chicago White Sox.
“We have a unique staff,” began Johnson, who was hired as the 10th head coach in program history on June 19. “We’re going to mesh really well as baseball coaches. I might be a pitching coach, but I’m also a baseball coach. Our staff will have the capability to work in multiple roles across all facets of the game. I think it’s a dynamic coaching staff that we’re developing with the intention of having a cooperative unit to help us get better as a team each day.”
Van Hook will have the responsibility of creating the team’s offensive game plan and will work with the infielders along with second-year volunteer assistant Roberto Gallegos. On game days, Van Hook will coach third and Gallegos will once again be at first. Overcash will coach the catchers, assist in all areas of the game, including pitching, and serve as a bench coach on game day. Beyond the field, each of Oklahoma’s four coaches will be responsible for creating and overseeing individual player development plans for assigned players.
Along with Gallegos, Johnson confirmed that Ryan Gaines will remain the Sooners’ Director of Baseball Operations. A 1995 graduate of OU, Gaines will move into his 13th season in that roll.
Van Hook played for Johnson at both Navarro College (2004) and Texas (2007). He transferred to UT from Navarro after his freshman season and spent three years at UT, where Johnson arrived as the pitching coach in 2007. As a senior in 2007, Van Hook earned All-Big 12 Second Team and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners.
“Clay’s a dynamic, young coach at the college level,” Johnson said of Van Hook. “He has been a dynamic recruiter. He played for me in junior college at Navarro and then went to Texas and played there. He comes from a great program in Rice having worked with Coach [Wayne] Graham. The relationships he has built in this profession are the reason we hired him. Clay will run our offense. I think he’ll be a major asset to us and will relate well to the players. He’s a high energy guy that can bring it every day.”
Since 2012, Van Hook was on the coaching staff at Rice under long-time head coach Wayne Graham. Hired as the volunteer assistant for the 2012 season, Van Hook was moved into a full-time role in 2013 as the Owls’ hitting coach. He also held responsibilities as the team’s recruiting coordinator, infielders’ coach and coached third base on game days.
"I think it’s a dynamic coaching staff that we’re developing with the intention of having a cooperative unit to help us get better as a team each day."
-- Skip Johnson, Head Coach
Rice is coming off a Conference USA tournament championship as the league’s six-seed. Van Hook and the Owls made the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in his six-year tenure and went 2-2 in the Baton Rouge Regional; falling to LSU in the final. Rice hitters combined for a .293 batting average in 2017, which ranked sixth in Conference USA and 50th in the NCAA. The Owls peaked in the national ranking at 19th with 127 doubles.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be a baseball coach and to be around the game,” stated Van Hook. “Skip was the guy that gave me the first shot to play college baseball. I’ve always wanted to coach for him because he’s a person that has had a positive impact on my life in many ways. I’ve known all these guys; Skip, Clay, Roberto, a long time and we’re ready to hit the ground running.”
Before joining the staff at Rice, Van Hook served as an assistant coach at McNeese State for three seasons from 2009-11. Van Hook, who earned his degree at Texas in 2008, while serving as a student-coach, and his wife Selina have a daughter Avery Michel (four) and a son Briscoe (one).
Overcash played collegiately at Middle Georgia Junior College and USC Upstate; then known as USC Spartanburg, where he earned All-District honors in 1990. He held assistant coaching positions at UNC Asheville and at various Oklahoma high schools, including Union in Tulsa for four years, prior to taking a position within the White Sox.
“I’ve had a relationship with Clay Overcash going on 13 or 14 years,” recalled Johnson. “He’ll bring a veteran presence to our team. He understands both the professional and collegiate sides of the game. He has terrific relationships in baseball throughout Oklahoma and the Midwest. I think his levelheadedness and the experiences he has been through are going to be an advantage for our program.”
For the last 18 years, Overcash worked as a Midwest area scout for the White Sox and was involved with the Area Code Games as a part of the Midwest Scout Team. In 2005, Overcash co-founded The Sandlot Sox Organization; a baseball club out of Tulsa. Since its inception, Overcash saw 64 players from the Sandlot selected in the MLB Draft.
“I’m very excited about being here with Skip, Roberto and Clay,” said Overcash. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and a lot of good work. There’s a great mix of ideals, morals, values and ethics on this staff. With the White Sox, I saw a ton of players through the years and was able to observe the whole field and understand what is happening in the whole game. Those experiences and time spent evaluating players will be a valuable foundation for me to return to coaching.”
Overcash’s wife, Melissa (Richie) lettered for the OU women’s basketball team from 1991-95. The couple has two children; a son Richie (12) and a daughter Remi (nine).