Randy Smith: The Mount Rushmore Of Local Softball Coaches

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
The column I wrote on Monday about the " Mount Rushmore " of Prep Softball Players was very well received, so as I promised we'll continue with this idea today as I choose my "Mount Rushmore" of local softball coaches. As tough as the players group was, this was even tougher. Since this is my list, we shall use my ground rules. Of the four coaches I've chosen, one never coached high school softball. There are also a couple of coaches who are "honorable mention."  These include Steve Chattin, who may be the best summer softball coach of all-time and is definitely the most knowledgeable coach I've ever known. I also give Coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly an "honorable mention" because they coached at UTC from 1995 through 2001 before moving to Tennessee in 2002.

Frank Reed-Chattanooga State and UTC
Frank is the dean of area softball coaches.
With a career record of 1,117-515 combined in 20 seasons at  UTC and in 11 seasons at Chattanooga State, Reed has set the standard for softball coaches, not only in Chattanooga but everywhere else as well. In addition to his wins on the collegiate level, Reed won close to 500 games with the highly successful Parker Eagles summer program including eight national titles. He has been named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year six times and won 14 SoCon Tournament Titles. He also is a former hitting instructor and head coach of the Dominican Republic National Team.

Clifford Kirk - Hixson, Soddy-Daisy and Sale Creek  
Coach Kirk has won 10 state championships at Hixson and Soddy Daisy high schools. He coached at Soddy Daisy for 26 years, winning eight of his 10 state titles before retiring in 2012. He didn't stay retired very long at all as he was hired as the head coach at Sale Creek within a few months of his retirement at Soddy Daisy. Since that time, Coach Kirk has taken his Sale Creek teams to several state tournaments. His Hixson teams won back to back state titles in 1987 and in 1988.

Susan Crownover - GPS
Coach Crownover's tenure at GPS has been a model of consistency. She has won a total of eight state titles, including four in a row from 2007-2010. Her first state tournament team finished second in 1997 and still holds the record for most runs scored in a state tournament with 60. The former UTC basketball player is the mother of former Clemson pitcher Mathew Crownover, who recently retired from professional baseball after several seasons in the minors. Coaching is in the Crownover bloodline as her husband David is also a long-time coach in the Chattanooga area. 

Kelli Howard Smith - Baylor
With 13 state championships, tied with Ezell Harding for the most ever, Baylor's Kelli Howard Smith has contributed to every single one of them. Two as a player in 1993 and 1994, and 11 more as a head coach. She won her first title in her rookie year as a head coach in 2003 and hasn't looked back or stopped winning state titles. Baylor is the five-time defending state champion, with five in a row from 2015 through 2019. She has also won a national coach of the year honor and going into the 2020 season her Red Raider squad was the favorite to win a 14th state crown. 

An interesting side note, in January of 2019 at the TSSAA state coaches and umpires meeting, I was in attendance with Coaches Kirk, Crownover and Smith. We were all seated in one row near the back and I counted 28 state titles won by those three coaches, all seated side by side. I was in royal company for sure.

On Friday of this week I'm changing gears for a bit as I list the top area camping destinations in our area.

Remember to stay safe, stay at home and wash your hands!
 
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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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