COMMERCE — Jack Kelley hopes to bring some stability to the Commerce High School baseball program.
Kelley succeeds Bill Rogers, who retired after three seasons at the Tiger helm.
“He did a good job with them so I am hoping to kinda continue what he had going and hopefully bring a little more stability,” Rogers said. “I am not looking to leave any time soon. The ones we’ve had have done good job, but they’ve been two or three (years) and they’ve been done.”
Kelley is the Tigers’ sixth coach since 2002 when Brian Waybright stepped down.
Since then, CHS has had Rick Trimble, 2003; Brian Simmons, 2004-2007; Clint Kissee, 2008-2011; Sam Schaper, 2012-2014, and Rogers, 2015-2017.
“We want to change the mindset a little bit,” Kelley said. “Of course we are a football town, but I want the kids to think baseball is like football. We’re going to put the same expectations on it and the same work ethic on it. That’s the only way I know how to do it: work hard and outwork people.
“We are going to be aggressive. We’re going to run and we’re going to challenge people a lot, sometimes make our own runs.
We’ve got some good kids coming up. I am real excited.”
Kelley’s oldest son, Brandon, will be a freshman so that also drove his interest a little bit.
“I got to coach him in football, but I also get to coach him in baseball. I am excited about that,” the elder Kelley said. “He loves the game and kinda made me love it even more, too. I am really excited.”
The Tigers were 12-12 last season, winning the Fairland Tournament with consecutive wins over Hulbert, Quapaw and the hosts — 14-6 in the championship game.
CHS finished third in the Comet Division of the Mickey Mantle Classic with a 2-1 decision over the Neosho JV.
The season came to an end with a double-header loss to Oklahoma Union in the Class 2A District 32 tournament at Mantle Field.
“I am really looking at trying to start from the ground up, middle school and high school,” Kelley said. “I will be involved with both. I am not going to be head coach, per se, of the middle school program, but we will run the same program from sixth grade on up, get them like we’ve done in football here.
“When I get them as a freshman, they already know the terminology and every situation, they know what we are doing then get better at it. I am looking forward to that.”