After spending the previous four years starting on the left side of Valpo's infield, West Hills, Calif. native Sam Shaikin joined the team's coaching staff as a volunteer assistant in June 2019.
Shaikin, who coaches first base and works with the team's infielders, was in his second season on staff as Valpo enjoyed its best league-only winning percentage since joining the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference in 2021. A young team that received 57.8 percent of its at-bats from freshmen and 68.1 percent of its at-bats from freshmen or sophomores won two games in the MVC Tournament for the first time since joining the league. The offense featured MVC Freshman of the Year Kaleb Hannahs, who also garnered All-MVC Second Team and Freshman All-American honors. Compared to the most recently completed season of 2019, the team improved its batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and fielding percentage in addition to increasing its number of home runs, doubles, hits and runs scored in 2021. The squad stole 33 bases, its highest total since 2017. Shaikin helped the team finish with a .969 fielding percentage in 2021, the third-best in program history.
A 2019 Valpo graduate with a degree in business management, Shaikin clubbed 21 home runs and drove in 106 over his 187 career games. He finished ninth in program history in runs scored with 133, while his home run total is tied for ninth. Shaikin also had a propensity for drawing walks during his playing days, ranking third in program history with 104 bases on balls.
Shaikin, who ranks fifth in program history with 392 assists, will serve as the team’s infield coach. He was a member of the 2018 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List by College Baseball Foundation for an award that goes to the top shortstop in the nation. Shaikin started his career in style in 2016, when he was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team.