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- ‘Hello, Dolly!’ opens Thursday at EPAC
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Hough named Warwick softball coach
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
When Mark Hough was selected as the Grand Marshall for Lititz’s Fourth of July parade this past summer, it spoke volumes that he asked the Warwick softball players to accompany him on the float.
As the JV coach for the past six years, the girls had become like family to him.
It also said a lot that 14 or 15 of the players accepted the invitation and had a front-row seat for the popular community event.
The respect was mutual.
And with Don Miller stepping down as the Lady Warriors’ skipper in June, Hough had the support of the girls to apply for the position. At the Warwick school board’s meeting in November, he was approved to take over as the team’s new coach.
The job was appealing to Hough not only because of his relationship with the players, but also to keep the program moving forward.
"I think the big thing was the fact that I really appreciated Donny giving me the opportunity six years ago to come on board as JV coach and it’s a really good group of kids," Hough remarked. "I really felt a loyalty to (this year’s) group of seniors, especially since most of them I had as freshmen on my JV team which went 13-1."
Hough knows that there will be some differences going from the JV coach to taking over as the varsity boss. Certainly, there will be more games which are competitive into the later innings. But Hough is confident that the transition will be a smooth one.
"I’m still the same person and I think the girls know how I do things," Hough said. "One of the big things is, we keep losing kids to lacrosse and soccer and things like that and I really want to try to get the excitement back for kids to want to play softball."
To that end, Hough is hoping to have his team attend the WYGSA Opening Day ceremony and some of its practices. Plus, for the Senior Night game this spring, he would like to invite all alumni back.
"I think (my goal) is hopefully continuing the way the program’s gone in the past," Hough said, "and like I said, I think Don did a good job and I just hope to continue in that fashion."
Under Miller’s leadership, the Warwick girls won the Section One title eight straight years from 2005-12 before surrendering it to rival Hempfield last spring. They also won the L-L League crown in 2010 and reached the District Three Triple-A championship game in 2007.
Hough acknowledged the expectations and pressure to win which will come with the job, but he is excited to get started.
"I had the senior girls over to the house just to kinda talk about the year and we’ve got the coaching staff in place now that I think we’re really ready and looking forward to a great season," Hough said. "I think we have a good group of kids and we’ve discussed where we are and where do we want to be. I think the idea of the meeting a couple of weeks ago was to sit there and say, ‘Where do you want to go as a team and then how do I and the coaches make sure that we hit that goal?’"
Joining Hough on his staff will be former Warwick star Heather Hess, who will be an assistant head coach, Cathy Byler, Ken Wolfe and newly-hired assistants Alyson Kernion and Kristen Holweger.
"We’re really set," Hough said.
In his first year at the helm, Hough will also have a quality group of six seniors in Victoria Byler, Tessa Eckman, Jenny George, Lacey Lefever, Nikole Rottkamp and Brandi Whitmyer helping to lead the way.
"We’ve got two really good pitchers (in Tessa and Lacey), we’ve got a couple of kids that are recovering from some surgeries, but I think the prospects are really good for us to be a very strong program," Hough said.
This won’t be his first experience with a strong program. Hough also coached previously with the Lititz VFW and American Legion baseball teams before switching over to the softball diamond. That might’ve been the biggest transition of all in his coaching career.
"I think that boys will kinda look at you and you offer an opinion and they’re like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’" Hough laughed. "And you say something to a girl and if they don’t execute it, they feel horrible that they didn’t do it. So you go up and try to (explain) and then it’s like, Oh God, I don’t want to hurt their feelings. It’s completely different, but it is a lot of fun."
It will also be a lot of fun for Hough matching wits against a couple of other coaches in the L-L League with Lititz roots – Hempfield’s Brian Lohr and Cocalico’s Gary Lefever – and different friends that he has gotten to know over the years.
"I really couldn’t be happier," Hough said. "It’s a cool opportunity an I love the community and I think the girls know how I feel about them and it’s just going to be a great year. We’ve got to kinda work to get back in the Section. Hempfield’s going to be a tough team and Cedar Crest too, but I think we’re really up for the challenge and I think the girls are ready for it."
More HOUGH, page B-3