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Area coaching jobs see musical chairs

June 29, 2012

Starkville native Brad Mitchell will take the head job at Eupora after holding the same position at Ackerman for the past six years. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

Coaching changes are common every year, and coaches usually pick the best spot for them and their families.

East Webster softball coach Meleah Brown has left the program to take the head job at Lawrence County. Eupora baseball coach Lee Berryhill will replace her, while Ackerman baseball coach Brad Mitchell will replace Berryhill at Eupora.

Mitchell, a Starkville native who played for just recently retired SHS baseball coach Danny Carlisle, coached six years for the Indians, including the 2009 Class 2A State Championship.

"It is just best for me and my family at this time," Mitchell said. "Everything matched up with teaching and scheduling. I already live here in Webster County. I was driving a good bit everyday. It gives me a lot more time with my family, and my family is more important to me than baseball will ever be."

Mitchell will also coach junior high baseball and football with his new title.

He is excited about the new job, but knows that he is only the coach.

"It is definitely not all about me," Mitchell said. "It's always been and always will be about the kids. We are just going to be known for working hard, be real gritty and getting after it. With the way the game is changing, I feel like that's what you have to be."

Ackerman and Eupora are in the same district so Mitchell is familiar with the program and the kids that play for the Eagles.

Mitchell said he had talked to Berryhill since the changing of guard and both agreed that the "two towns are a lot alike in a lot of ways."

"Eupora kids always work hard," Mitchell said. "They get after it."

Mitchell had a good bit of success with the Indians, but missed the playoffs last season. He expects there to be a lot of support from administration and staff.

"I am looking for a lot of support," Mitchell said. "That means everything to these kids if they've got their parents, their friends and the school behind them. I am also looking forward to working for a staff that gets along great, and everybody is on the same page, not that we weren't at Ackerman. I am just looking for guys that will play hard and buy into our system and what we do."

Berryhill moves to another part of the county after being the head man at Eupora for 17 years. He won the Class 2A State baseball titles in 2000 and 2003.

It was an easy transition for Berryhill as his wife has been at East Webster for 19 years and his daughter will be in the fifth grade.

"All in all, I've had an idea that I might wind up there at some point in time," Berryhill said. "In the past, it hadn't been a sense of urgency as it is now because of my daughter. I want to be able to support her as much as I can. There comes a time and point in your life when you have to do what's best for your family not just yourself."

Berryhill coached a couple of seasons of slowpitch softball for the Eagles early in his career, but he has never coached fastpitch softball.

"I think the sport is similar to baseball," he said. "There is not that big of change. Pitching is a little bit different as far as arm motion, but everything else is about the same. The stealing may be a little bit quicker because the bases are shorter. The general aspect of the game is the same."

The Lady Wolverines are coming off a deep run into the playoffs. They were two games away from making it to the Class 2A North half title game.

"I do know they've got talent coming back," Berryhill said. "I don't know what all they lost. I will go in and continue to practice, work hard everyday and get the girls to buy into the system."

As for the Ackerman baseball program, Mitchell's replacement is not known at this time.

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