UCSB and the Gauchos welcomed Neil Walton to the staff in the fall of 2013. A former standout shortstop at Cal State Fullerton, Walton looks over the position players, runs the offense, and assists with recruiting.
"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 to plying his trade in the pros, there is a lot that Neil can teach our young players."
Since arriving at UCSB the Gauchos have gone 74–34-2 (.685). In the 2015 season, Walton watched over a UCSB group that returned to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years, but also became the first UCSB squad to host a regional in program history.
The 2015 group finished the year with a 40-17-1 record and led the Big West conference in hitting (.289 ) and fielding percentage (.976). Following in the footsteps of 2014 All-American Joey Epperson, Cameron Newell was shared the Big West Field Player of the Year Award with Cal State Fullerton's David Olmedo-Barrera, becoming UCSB's first conference Player of the Year since 1991. Newell joined nine of his other teammates as 2015 All-Conference selections, including position players Cambell Wear, Peter Maris, Robby Nesovic, Andrew Calica, and Luke Swenson.
At the end of the 2015 season, the Gauchos saw a program-record 10 of their players selected in the MLB draft. That number was second in the country only to Oklahoma's 11. Shortly after the draft, infielder Peter Maris signed as a free agent with the Rays which put the number to 11 players with the opportunity to play professionally in 2015 and 15 in the two years Walton has been at UCSB.
In Walton’s first season with the Gauchos, UCSB was ranked among the top-10 nationally for the first time since 1986. 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. The incoming 2015 recruiting class also ranked No. 32 in the nation.
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 Titans 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 Outfielder/Pitcher Michael Lorenzen and infielder 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. He and his wife Emmy currently reside in Goleta.