Neil Walton begins his second season with the Gauchos after
being hired in September 2013. A former standout infielder at
Cal State Fullerton, Walton was promoted to assistant coach in July
of 2014 after serving as volunteer assistant coach during the
"Neil brings a level of experience to the program that is very hard to find and that we value very much," said Checketts. "From reaching the College World Series at Fullerton to plying his trade in the pros, there is a lot that Neil can teach our young players."
With the Gauchos, Walton will run the offense, assist with the
hitters and recruiting, and oversee the outfielders.
In Walton’s first season with the Gauchos, UCSB broke into the Top-25 and reached their highest ranking in program history. Four players off the 2014 team were selected in the MLB draft including Golden Spikes Award nominee Joey Epperson. The Gauchos finished the season with a 34-17 record and five All-Conference selections.
Prior to his time at UCSB, Walton spent time on staff at Cal State Fullerton assisting head coach Rick Vanderhook with coaching duties for a Cal State Fullerton team that went 51-10 to win the Big West and reached the NCAA tournament for the 21st consecutive season. Nine players were drafted off that team, including first round selections Michael Lorenzen and Matt Chapman. The Titan team also produced four All-Americans, and 10 All-Conference selections including Conference Defensive Player of the Year Richie Pedroza.
In the summer before Walton arrived in Santa Barbara, he served as the interim manager/assistant coach for the Terre Haute Rex Baseball Club in the Prospect Summer Collegiate League. There, he was tasked with running the pitching staff and took over manager responsibilities halfway through the season.
As a player, Walton was a three-year standout for the Titans. A slick-fielding shortstop, he featured in 107 games over three years at Cal State Fullerton. The Titans were ranked No. 1 in the country at some point of the season in all three of his years, and they won the National Championship in his sophomore stint. Following his junior year Walton was part of a NCAA-record group of 14 Titans that were selected in the 2005 MLB draft. Overall, as a player and coach Walton has been to four Super Regionals, and made it to the College World Series twice.
After Fullerton, Walton was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2005 MLB First Year Player Draft. He had earlier been drafted by the San Francisco Giants out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft, but attended Fullerton in lieu of signing. Walton spent four years in the Tampa Bay organization, rising as high as AA in 2008.
Walton completed his masters degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton in May 2013, and currently resides in Goleta.