September 1, 2015

92° Fair

WC’s Douglas is county’s top coach

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 8, 2014

 

Warren Central's Carlisle Koestler, left, and Conner Douglas are the 2014 Vicksburg Post Baseball Player and Coach of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)
Warren Central’s Carlisle Koestler, left, and Conner Douglas are the 2014 Vicksburg Post Baseball Player and Coach of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Ever since he joined Warren Central’s coaching staff as an assistant in 2010, Conner Douglas has helped the Vikings to steadily improve.

They won at least 15 games in each of his three seasons as the team’s pitching coach. In two seasons as head coach, they’ve gotten even better.

After going 19-13 in 2013, Douglas’s first season at the helm, they broke the 20-win barrier this year for the first time since 2006. Although the Vikings lost in the play-in round of the Class 6A playoffs, their impressive run in the regular season and two-year track record helped Douglas earn the 2014 Vicksburg Post baseball Coach of the Year award.

He’s the first Warren Central coach to get the honor since 2004, and it’s only the fourth time in the award’s 20-year history that a WC skipper has gotten it.

“It means a lot. I wouldn’t have got it if it weren’t for these guys and the hard work they put in, so it’s a credit to them. It’s a credit to the whole team, not just to me,” Douglas said.

Douglas and his coaching staff ­— Randy Broome, Brad Babb and Scott Trousdale — helped mold a rare winner this season that didn’t rely on a single superstar.

The team played 30 games, and 18 of the 27 players on the varsity roster saw time in at least 10 games. Eleven played in at least 20 games.

The pitching staff had six players who threw at least 19 innings. The bullpen played a role in 22 of WC’s 30 games, a rarity for the high school level.

“We were consistent through the lineup. We never relied on one person to get the big hit or make big pitches for us,” Douglas said. “We were pretty balanced, I thought, through the year. That’s what championship teams have. They have guys one through nine that somebody steps up.”

That ability to generate offense throughout the lineup helped Warren Central to be one of the state’s best teams in the regular season.

The Vikings averaged nearly 10 runs per game, and won four of their first five games by scoring in the sixth inning or later. Another late rally in Game 2 of their playoff series with Grenada kept the season alive.

“We just had a good group of guys. They’ve been playing for a while, and were just a good group of seniors who worked hard,” Douglas said. “They bought in to what we’ve been trying to do for four years here. They played well together.”

WC is losing nine seniors from this year’s team, including three — Carlisle Koestler, Hunter Bell and Cameron Upton — who have signed with junior colleges.

The experience the younger players got throughout this season has the program well-suited to be a contender for several years to come, however.

Junior Layne Tedder and sophomores Taft Nesmith and Brooks Boolos will form a strong pitching staff next year. The trio combined to go 7-4 with six saves — five by Boolos — and threw 67 1/3 innings. Tedder’s 0.51 ERA was the best on the team.

Boolos and seniors-to-be Zach Cox and Marcus Ragan also will provide some offensive pop. Cox hit .347 this season and Ragan hit .351 with 29 runs scored.

A glance at the returning roster had Douglas excited about the future.

“We lost six of our guys that contributed every day, but we also talked about having those 15 that can step in and play any day. We like where we are right now,” he said. This summer is going to tell a lot of tales. A lot of experience gone, but a lot of guys that got experience this year that I feel good about stepping in next year.”