Warren Central hires Douglas as head baseball coach

Published 11:27 am Friday, July 20, 2012

Warren Central principal Jamie Creel, who coached baseball at Vicksburg High for 11 years, had a good idea of what he wanted in a new baseball coach for the Vikings.

Creel feels he has hit a home run with the promotion of assistant coach Conner Douglas to the head coaching position at Warren Central. Douglas, a Clarksdale native and a former player at Northwest Community College and Mississippi College, replaces Josh Abraham, who resigned after four seasons to take a sales job in Tupelo.

For Creel, it was a matter of vision. He said Douglas’ vision for the Viking baseball program was the clearest of the 10 candidates interviewed. Douglas was approved at Thursday night’s Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees’ monthly meeting.

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“He was the overwhelming choice of our seven-person committee,” Creel said. “The biggest thing I looked for was vision and what kind of vision would he have for Warren Central. Connor showed us his vision by submitting a facility plan and a plan for the kids. It called for the progression of the Warren Central program just like the one I have for the entire school.”

Douglas said he kicked around ideas on how to improve the baseball facility at Viking Field with fellow assistant coaches Brad Babb and Tip Nutt.

“The biggest thing is an indoor hitting facility,” Douglas said. “I know that will take some fundraising, but I think we can get one done by next season. We would also like to build a new fieldhouse down the first base side.”

For the past three seasons Douglas served as the Vikings’ pitching coach on Abraham’s staff. Warren Central showed progress, improving from a 10-18 record in Abraham’s first season to 15-13 with Douglas aboard. The Vikings followed it up with a 15-15 record in 2011 and 17-15 in 2012. The Vikings made the Class 6A playoffs all three seasons.

Douglas credited Abraham’s leadership for preparing him to become a head coach.

“Abe was a great mentor, but I was more than just a pitching coach,” Douglas said. “I put together practice plans. I did the strength and conditioning program for the past two years and this past season, I handled the fundraising. I also did a lot of work with our infielders. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”

Douglas grew up in Clarksdale and played football and baseball at Lee Academy. Lee was known more for its football program under coach Kyle Finney than for baseball.

“Coach Finney was a big mentor,” Douglas said. “He coached me in football for three years at Lee and was my baseball coach my senior year.”

Douglas had limited options coming out of Lee and decided to walk-on at Northwest. There, his love for baseball blossomed.

“Of all my mentors, coach Mark Carson at Northwest was the biggest,” Douglas said. “He coached by love and not by fear. That has stayed with me, and I have that same vision. I went from being a walk on to becoming an all-state pitcher at Northwest. I was able to go and play at Mississippi College. He’s the reason why I wanted to become a coach.”

One of Douglas’ teammates at Mississippi College was Jody Britt. Thursday the Board of Trustees approved his hiring as an assistant coach. He comes to WC after a two-year stint at Bogue Chitto.

“Coach Britt is going to be a huge asset for us,” Douglas said. “He was our three-hole hitter at MC, was a great infielder, and knows the game.”

Creel was impressed by Britt’s rebuilding job at Bogue Chitto.

“He was our runner-up for the head coaching job, but I felt strongly about bringing him into the program,” Creel said. “He was interested in the assistant’s job and gladly accepted it. I feel he will be a tremendous asset.”

Britt will fill the void left by Douglas’ promotion to the head coaching role.

Douglas knows his staff will have a challenge after the loss of six senior position starters and three pitchers from last season’s team, including the Vicksburg Post Player of the Year, Cody Waddell.

“We have a real small senior class, but we also have a good group coming back and a really strong ninth- and 10th-grade class,” Douglas said.

Douglas said he embraces the status of Warren Central baseball, a perennial playoff program that won its only state title in 2001.

“Everyone knows that the schools on the I-20 corridor are some of the best around in baseball,” he said. “If you’re from Warren Central, you know we play good baseball.”