A coaching change can be key for a boost in morale.
Natchitoches Central and Marksville are hoping that such is the case, as both teams announced changes to their baseball staffs.
Former St. Mary’s coach Jeramie Hale will take over for Kelly Spann, who resigned after spending five seasons with the Chiefs.
NCHS finished 12-17 and just outside the 32-team LHSAA Class 5A playoff field — which it has not made in nearly 20 seasons — but Hale brings experience with a successful tenure with the Tigers.
He led St. Mary’s to the Class 1A title in 2011 and to a runner-up finish in 2010, while helping the school finish around the top of District 3-1A along the way.
“When the position opened, we had the best candidate right here on our staff,” NCHS football coach and athletics director Brandon Helms said in a news release. “Coach Hale has produced numerous district championships, as well as a state championship and a state runner-up while being the coach at St. Mary’s. We look forward to him taking our program to another level.”
Joining him on staff is another former St. Mary’s coach, Austin Alexander, who led his alma mater to a pair of Class 1A quarterfinals appearances in two seasons.
“This was an easy hire for me,” Helms said. “I watched coach Alexander as a volunteer for our softball program and was really impressed with his work ethic and knowledge. Alexander played for coach Hale at St. Mary’s, so he knows what is expected to reach the championship level.”
Like the Chiefs, Marksville finished on the outside looking in at 4-17, but will have Josh Harper as its new coach.
Harper’s background is mostly on the hardwood rather than on the baseball diamond, but he made an impression as the interim coach during the summer.
“He’s been on our staff for quite a while,” Marksville athletic director J.T. Dunbar said. “He was the best candidate for the job and he worked really well with our boys during the summer on an interim basis. He’s been great within the community.”